[Haskell-cafe] HDBC's future and request for help

Chris Dornan chris at chrisdornan.com
Wed Feb 23 18:57:03 CET 2011

Thanks John,


I think this is a valuable discussion.


The compromise you propose wouldn't address the main point - the fear and
aversion of using (L)GPL IP in proprietary IP.


For me the key phrase in your email was the final one - 'if my reading is
correct'. Everywhere I would take advantage of this modified license I will
need to get the lawyers of the people owning the host IP to agree to this


I have checked all of the packages in the Haskell Platform and they are all
BSD3. If it had been otherwise it would have destroyed a significant part of
the value of the HP - clear and straightforward licensing implications for
using it.


I really don't want to plough work into a package that can't be bundled with
the HP, the natural home for strategically-important high-quality libraries.


Turning this around, it is going to be much easier to get people who are
using Haskell in commercial contexts to contribute to HDBC if it has a
license that meets their requirements.


I do appreciate your concerns - I have regularly contributed code to the
community and want to continue doing so - but I think there is little real
prospect of HDBC being attacked by a proprietary derivative. I don't doubt
there will be some free-loading, but this might be the inevitable price of
attracting more investment.





From: John Goerzen [mailto:jgoerzen at complete.org] 
Sent: 23 February 2011 16:33
To: Chris Dornan
Cc: 'Haskell Cafe'; 'Gershom Bazerman'
Subject: Re: [Haskell-cafe] HDBC's future and request for help


On 02/23/2011 05:48 AM, Chris Dornan wrote:
> The simple answer is that I need to be able to use HDBC in proprietary
> products and the LGPL makes this awkward - the most serious issue being
> that owners of the code base don't want GNU licensed parts being linked
> into their code base. Packaging and delivery also gets complicated - (as
> I understand it) LGPL components can't be delivered pre-linked,
> necessitating dynamic linking of the relevant libraries or supplying a
> GHC kit which the customer must use to assemble the product. This is all
> a significant drag.

Let's talk about specifics.  I imagine that in LGPL-3 that the only
clause for objection here is 4(d)0, which requires that the proprietary
application be conveyed in a form such that the user can relink it with
a modified version of the library.

I would be willing to add an exemption to that requirement to the HDBC
license, which should address that concern.

What do you think?

> Also, wouldn't it be good to get HDBC into the Haskell Platform? - but
> we can't do this while it is LGPL can we?

Why not?

> On the other side, what are the risks with adopting a BSD license? Is it
> that somebody could fork the library into a proprietary Haskell DB
> library that would compete with HDBC?

That's one way to put it.  It's a big complaint I have about the BSD
license.  There are many, many examples of companies taking things
licensed under BSD, adding features small or large, selling the result
at profit, and neither releasing the source for the new features to the
community nor compensating the original authors in any way.

I see a distinction between someone that just wants to *use* HDBC and
between someone that wants to "embrace and extend" it.

I know that work I do on Linux, Haskell, etc. leads to companies such as
Ubuntu making a profit off my work, for which they don't compensate me.
  I also know that if they improve on it, and it's GPL, they have to
return those improvements to the community so we can all benefit.

I am bothered by the notion of letting companies take work I've done on
a volunteer basis, close it up, change it, never compensate me for it
and also never release the changes to the community.  This is why I
prefer to avoid the BSD license.

In the case of HDBC, if all somebody wants to do is use vanilla HDBC in
their program without having to release the source to the proprietary
program or jump through hoops to let end users replace HDBC, then I
think that LGPL with the modification I proposed above would meet both
their concern and mine.  The LGPL would still require them to note
HDBC's copyright (which the BSD license requires as well), and to
distribute source to any modifications they make *to HDBC*, but impose
no other onerous restrictions if my reading is correct.

- John 


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