[tei-council] Fwd: TEI licensing issues

Martin Holmes mholmes at uvic.ca
Tue Sep 13 12:27:31 EDT 2011

On 11-09-13 05:45 AM, Piotr Bański wrote:
> On 13/09/11 14:26, Laurent Romary wrote:
>> OK. What I meant is that, if I have understood the situation correctly, it was not necessarily planned to have this GPL constraints on some of our TEI productions.
> The description of what you call GPL constraints as "viral" comes, as
> far as I barely recall, from some Microsoft spokesman. He was very
> successful -- this is a strong meme, people catch it unawares. It's very
> cunning: it reverses the imagery, from a means to keep stuff free to a
> picture where that strategy acquires evil/dangerous connotations, and of
> course the meme cleverly plays on the right to possess and to draw
> income, although the license actually doesn't prevent either.

I don't think I'd quite agree with that. I've been involved in 
commercial software development for many years, and I've come to dislike 
the GPL; it's generally very difficult to use GPL code in a commercial 
project without having to make your own commercial source code public as 
well, and that acts as a serious deterrent to commercial software 
development. The LGPL is slightly better, but even that involves lots of 
compromises and can often force you to restructure your application so 
that compiled libraries are kept separate and linked at run-time rather 
than compile-time.

The GPL encodes an ideological stance which is strongly opposed to 
anyone keeping source code secret. Most commercial software developers 
feel that they must keep at least some of their source code secret, 
otherwise their software will be recompiled and released for free by 
hackers or competitors.

I understand the motivation behind the GPL, but I think on balance its 
effects on innovation and openness are actually negative. I much prefer 
licenses like MPL and BSD which don't really attempt to control what 
people do with the source code.


>> Could you explain in which way CC-BY is incompatible with GPL? (I have difficulties to grasp why claiming attribution is a problem)
> I don't think that just claiming attribution is a problem, the devil
> must hide in the extra prose, because the BSD licenses also retain the
> claim to attribution, and are OK with the GPL:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSD_licenses
> So I'd rather leave the full answer to your question to the professional
> lawyers who have made these claims. Apart from the links cited, there is
> also a CC FAQ, straight from the Creative Commons guys, and they
> probably are not lying:
> http://wiki.creativecommons.org/Frequently_Asked_Questions#Can_I_use_a_Creative_Commons_license_for_software.3F
> "(...) Furthermore, our licenses are not
> compatible with the GPL, the most frequently used free software license.
> Note that the CC0 Public Domain Dedication is GPL-compatible and
> acceptable for software. For details, see the relevant CC0 FAQ entry. "
>    P.

Martin Holmes
University of Victoria Humanities Computing and Media Centre
(mholmes at uvic.ca)

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