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Re: [Duplicity-talk] GPL-3

From: Joe MacDonald
Subject: Re: [Duplicity-talk] GPL-3
Date: Wed, 13 Apr 2011 17:45:59 -0400

On Wed, Apr 13, 2011 at 3:08 PM, <address@hidden> wrote:
On 13.04.2011 19:51, Joe MacDonald wrote:
> On Tue, Apr 12, 2011 at 4:18 AM, <address@hidden <mailto:address@hidden>> wrote:
>     On 11.04.2011 19:30, Joe MacDonald wrote:
>     >
>     > I can't speak for anyone else, but as a distro vendor (my day job, not at this email address) a move to GPLv3 would mean I wouldn't be doing any further upgrades in our package and eventually it would get removed.  I've got absolutely no say in our policy on licenses but anything GPLv3 is specifically forbidden by our legal department (and explicitly stated as to be excluded by some of our customers).
>     could you find out the reasons for 'banning'. waht distro are you talking about?
> There's actually a number of reasons but they all amount to something like "we are writing proprietary code and don't want to be forced to open-source any of it".  Not that they're using anything inappropriately, but that they have, for example, in-house hardware and in-house drivers or software for it that they don't want to share.  So they want to be certain that the operating system they are buying will not introduce any risk of them having to open their code.  I don't think it's really appropriate for me to talk about my employer or our customers here, but we're an embedded linux distribution that you'd be able to find reasonably easy with Google.  I'm doing my best to help us navigate GPLv3 issues right now (obviously, long term ignoring the issue won't work) but today the only option I have is to simply not include anything GPLv3.

relicensing duplicity to gpl3 does _not_ result in a heighten enforcement to open closed software. gpl2 and gpl3 are comparable in this regard.
_only_ if you are distributing duplicity by using it in your distro, you will have to supply the distro customers with the (modified) duplicity sources (that's identical for gpl2/3).

Yep, I understand that (or at least that's my understanding of it, since IANAL I don't know that I've interpreted it correctly but that seems to be common consensus, which is good enough for me).  I am making the same arguments at work.  The issue I'm facing is that we have customers who do not care about the details, they are comparing distributions and have a checklist "contains GPLv3 software".  If there's a check in that box, that distro is eliminated from consideration.

I have to say, this isn't most, but it is enough that there's many different discussions happening regarding it.  I know that for some key pieces of software we are looking at our options, for something like duplicity that is not considered core functionality, I'll lose any argument in favour of keeping it.  It sucks, because I like it and I think it's a valuable feature for our distro, but that's where I am.

Really, I don't expect to influence any decision on this, I effectively just popped up out of the woodwork a few days ago, though I've been lurking on the list for a while now.  I'm just interested in the decision and what might be driving it.

regarding in-house software. any modification used only in-house, meaning not distributed to a third party, is not enforced to be open by gpl, that's up to you.

the only 'threat' might be the patent issue. check
not for the issue, but for the understanding. if your companies modification uses patented know-how (even licensed from a third party), you will obviously have to publish the modified sources if you distribute the software to your customers. usually you will license the patented technology to them for usage.

the new gpl3 says now: you cannot license only to your customers, but instead have to license it to _all_ users of the new modified open source software. if you don't you'll loose the right to use the software your work is based on. the whole modification is useless to the community if you limit it to your direct customers. it would make it impossible for the upstream to integrate your enhancements. kind of an intellectual tivoization here ;)

to say it in other words. if you want to be proprietary, also in intellectual aspects, you will have to write your own software from the scratch or use gpl2- software to base it on.

sounds fair to me. and to you?

Yeah, of course, though personally I would rather everyone stick to open licences anyway and avoid closed-source software altogether.  But if wishes were horses, y'know.  ;-)

>     > RMS' comments aside, is there particular reasons of interest to the duplicity developers to move to v3 from v2+?  Just wondering.
>     the mentioned
>     > reading (tivoization, patent protection, apache license compatibility)
>     > http://www.gnu.org/licenses/rms-why-gplv3.html
>     convince at least me.
> Okay, I wasn't aware that there were patent protection issues or a strong desire to be compatible with the apache license in duplicity.  Seriously, if those are concerns, that's perfectly valid, I didn't mean to dismiss RMS' arguments, I was just interested in what issues for duplicity would be resolved by moving to GPLv3.
> Thanks for the update.

there are no strong desires, i suppose, but the new possibility to include apache licensed code,

That's certainly a compelling argument even if you don't have a concrete example right away.  A quick look around at some of the other software I use that supports various forms of crypto shows that there's always issues with integrating implementations of algorithms done under incompatible (but still open) licenses.
plus protection from patent and tivoization threats - these will support duplicity as a project. these are real gains.

I'm not sure how duplicity is at risk from tivoization, but I guess I can imagine a situation where some evil vendor uses duplicity to restrict access to a user's data or something.
i of course also agree with linus torvald's point of keeping the user the freedom to use it any way, the user sees fits, including drm. but i strongly differentiate between end user and distributor and therefor, if somebody wants to tivoate at home, please do. but if a distributor thinks he can circumvent the right to use the software freely by allowing only signed versions, i strongly oppose.

 Personally I'm with you on this.  Professionally I can say with almost complete certainty that I don't have the level of influence to be able to get a GPLv3 version of duplicity included in our distro, though it was quite easy to sell the value proposition of integrating the current version.  :-/

Joe MacDonald

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