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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Java licensing

From: Alex Hudson
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Java licensing
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2006 16:35:44 +0000

On Tue, 2006-03-14 at 16:15 +0000, Sam Liddicott wrote:
> > In general, I think the LGPL is a pretty tough license to stick to -
> I would be interested to hear your reasons for thinking this.
> > it's a lot easier to fulfil the terms of the GPL. 
> Surely the only management difference with the LGPL is that you share
> less source. If your changes are minimal you can probably submit them
> back to the project maintainer. Most other obligations of the GPL
> happen naturally if you don't interfere with the build tools.

Well, I have mixed views on the LGPL for a number of reasons. I think it
achieves what it set out to achieve, and does it pretty well, but it's
not a licence I would ever want to use. And, if I had to distribute
software that was LGPL'd, I would do so under the terms of the GPL (via
the conversion route).

In terms of the extra 'toughness' compared with the GPL, it mostly comes
up if you're a proprietary software developer (eg., the need to maintain
strict ABI compatibility with the library) so you might not care, but
then there isn't really a good reason for the LGPL without proprietary
software (AIUI, the FSF encourages free software authors to use the GPL
in all cases now, which they didn't use to). 

There are other restrictions in the LGPL (such as 'modified libraries
must remain libraries' [you can't make applications out of them], and
the requirement to document modifications is much stronger) which I
don't like, and definitely do affect you if you're a free software
author. As a standalone licence [which it isn't, but, you know..], it
would be difficult to call it a free software licence I think.

And there is also some stuff I don't really understand (requirement 2d.
does my head in, frankly), and haven't ever bothered to understand.

I don't think it's as good a licence as the GPL, but then the GPL was
designed for all software - the LGPL is very much a license for
libraries, and I think is pretty good at what it attempts to do. 

Also, I suspect (though obviously cannot prove) that most people think
the LGPL is just the GPL with a linking exception and treat it as such.
When you actually read the licence, though, it's very different.
However, the number of applications out there licensed under the LGPL
(which I think is a nonsense) makes me think I'm right.



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