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Complex license choice

From: Vincent Archer
Subject: Complex license choice
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 2000 16:12:36 +0100

I have a problem. We're developping a very large piece of software (in
practice, it's a massively multiplayer RPG), and we are trying to open
the software itself as much as possible (as the "real" worth of that is
in the setting and the service, not code itself).

But, basically, we're stumped by a specific problem. For a minimum of
performance, we have to use some proprietary software.

Here's the whole shebang:

- We have a generic library (NeL) that comprises networking, 3D, most
  of everything someone needs for that type of software.
- We have a client software, which uses NeL, and runs on the user machine
- We have a server software, which also uses NeL, and will run on our
  system clusters

Basically, however, to function, the server software and the client will have
to use some proprietary libraries. Less so in the case of the client; it's
mainly interacting with OpenGL proprietary drivers, and sound libraries, but
we're not distributing these drivers/libraries; they're resident on your
PC (and the client does NOT require them to work).

The server however, will be bound with some specific piece of software,
notably a commercial object-oriented high-performance database.

Question: What would be the best licenses to put the 3 components under?

NeL (the common library); the client; the server

We have choices: The GPL, the LGPL, a BSD license (or something else?)

Strictly speaking, we're going to distribute as binaries/executables the
Client+NeL, and we are intending to put these two under the GPL.

In the case of the server, we're not going to distribute anything. We're
going, however, to open the source code, and allow people to use it as
they see fit. We WOULD like to put the server code under the GPL too,
but the current state of the code means that what we will be "publishing"
a piece of source code that cannot run UNLESS you also obtain some
proprietary software, or do a lot of work to make it run separately.

To further muddy things, the client software will probably be also
pretty well unusable without a server to connect to.

What are your opinion on this? I'll welcome philophically-oriented ones,
but what interest my company more is the legalistic opinions.

Vincent Archer                                         Email:

Nevrax France.                              Off on the yellow brick road we go!

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