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Re: [fluid-dev] Another application using FluidSynth announced

From: Matt Giuca
Subject: Re: [fluid-dev] Another application using FluidSynth announced
Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2011 16:31:48 +1000

> I would agree that an official stance from the project would be a good
> thing. As it stands, we don't have a legal entity owning all the code, and
> I'm hesitant to try to assemble one given the difficulties collecting
> copyright assignments for both past and future contributors.
> Therefore, there's no way we currently can speak for all copyright holders
> of the project.

Right. That means you probably need to be conservative and assume it means "no".

This issue came up in the Battle for Wesnoth community with the end
result being that it was given the OK for release on the App Store.
In this situation, it was the Wesnoth team themselves that published
the game in the App Store (for a fee as well). Apparently the core
team were okay with it, but one of the contributors, Rusty Russell,
disagreed and raised a stink.

He has a point. What good is a license if some (but not all) of the
team can decide to violate it later on?

> On the contrary, as of 1.1.4 you are a copyright holder yourself. How do you
> feel about it?

My personal feeling is that it isn't okay. The spirit of the LGPL is
that it can be linked with proprietary software, but the library
itself must be modifiable by the end user, including the ability to
swap in a modified version of the library with the proprietary
software. If someone modifies FS for their iOS app and doesn't release
those modifications, it is absolutely a violation, so I will assume
we're dealing with the more blurry issue of people who release the
modifications' source code, but which end users technically can't make
use of (because the only way to install the software is to get the
unmodified version from Apple).

In that case, I would still say it is a violation of the *spirit* of
the LGPL because it violates this nice symmetry of the FS developers
saying to the downstream developers (Slide Control, for example), "You
can make modifications to this software however you like, but when you
pass it on, you must extend the same freedom to your users."

I can't say whether it violates the letter of the LGPL (v2), since I'm
not a lawyer. But my reading of it (as I went into detail on here
http://lists.gnu.org/archive/html/fluid-dev/2010-09/msg00028.html), is
that it's probably a violation of both Section 6 and 10. Section 6
says that you must "Accompany the work with ... the complete
machine-readable "work that uses the Library", as object code and/or
source code, so that the user can modify the Library and then relink
to produce a modified executable containing the modified Library" --
aside from requiring relinking, this also has the problem that most
users (those without an Apple developer license) will not have the
ability to produce a modified executable, so you cannot satisfy this
clause. Section 10 says that "You may not impose any further
restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted
herein," and the App Store does impose additional restrictions on the
use of the software.

But I wouldn't raise a stink like Russell did, because I haven't
contributed enough to the project to feel entitled to sway its

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