Tugger the SLUGger!SLUG Mailing List Archives

Re: [chat] LGPL license w/o GPL infection


On Mon, Oct 15, 2001 at 10:51:01AM +1000, Matthew Palmer wrote:

> The big question is, where is the line between using your code
> and modifying your code?  If you published the following line of
> code:
> 
> printf("Hello world!\n");
> 
> under your licence, I could possibly argue that
> 
> printf("Hello cruel world!\n");
> 
> is using your code, not modifying your code, because I used
> 'prinf("Hello ' and 'world!\n");' and also used my own code.
> 
> So, where is the line drawn?

Indeed.  The license defines where the line is drawn, although in
areas where it's really ambigious (e.g. Linux kernel modules) it's
up to the author.  I'm hoping that whatever license I choose
defines this well enough that I won't have to worry about
clarifying such ambiguities.

> But what if I add another function, in a separate source file?

I know that the Mozilla Public License has a clause covering
adding separate files.  I was about to explain it, but I promptly
forgot what the exact conditions were :).  I posted a URL to a
page on mozilla.org last night which was a "simple English
interpretation" of the MPL, which you may find really useful if
you're interested in this.

> I've not modified your code, I've added my own, and that doesn't
> violate your licence.  What about, similarly, if I take one file
> (or part thereof) and use it in my own program?  Does that mean
> that I've modified your code, or merely used it in my own
> product?

Well, according to _my reasoning_ (and not the license), if you've
taken my code and dumped it in your own program, that's not a
modification; that's just using, and I don't care if you use it.
If you modify one measly line of code though, then you have to
give those modifications back to the public under the same
license, via a patch or whatever.

Of course, what the license says is a different story, and that
differs from license to license.

> Don't get me wrong, I know the LGPL isn't perfect for what you
> want, but be very careful to define everything very precisely.
> That's why the GPL and LGPL are so large - they need to cover
> every possibility so the lawyers can't drive trucks through the
> holes.

Exactly.  The one big reason I'm still considering using the LGPL
is because it's more well-recognised than the MPL or the Artistic
License, even though I feel the latter two are more appropriate
for my wishes.  I'm not even thinking about coming up with my own
license because of all the legalese you have to know, and I'm
confident that between one of the three licenses I mentioned
above, I'll find what I'm looking for.

BTW, I'm glad to see that this is all being talked about in a
friendly constructive way and that I haven't started a flamewar; I
was quite afraid of that happening :).


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