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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, 14 Sep 2011 13:49:27 +1000

> I find it disgusting the attitude of
> Rusty Russell regarding the Wesnoth game. I can understand his disagreement
> against selling the game in the App Store, but what bugs me a lot is the
> arrogance of thinking that his license interpretation is the only valid
> against the rest of the project.

I don't find it "disgusting" that someone contributed code under a
specific license, and then was upset when the project lead actively
violated the license by selling his code (or, partly his) in a manner
that did not allow the end users to modify it. Even if others did
interpret the license differently, it is not "arrogant" to stand up
for your own interpretation of the license, especially one that seems
pretty clear cut to me. I think of this like any other GPL violation
-- Russell would have had every right to complain if the project
leader started releasing versions of the game without source code. It
seems the only difference here is that the iPhone is so popular it
seems to overrule the terms of the license. Russell was just standing
up for the legal agreement between all the developers, rather than
rushing out to cash in on the next "cool" thing.

I think it's different in the FluidSynth case because you guys aren't
the ones making the iOS app, and you aren't charging for it, but
still, the same underlying principle applies.

That said, I wouldn't kick up a fuss if you wanted to change the
license. I would relicense my contributions under the BSD or whatever.

But I am pretty dismayed that it seems to have come to an attempt to
change the license that has been used for this project, and agreed
upon by all the developers, for eleven years, just because a new
operating system came out that a) is phenomenally popular, and b)
forces all developers to violate the (L)GPL by its extreme software
distribution policy. I really don't see the point of having a license
at all if at the drop of a hat we can change it to suit the new
operating systems. The point of the license, as I see it, is that the
project makes a policy that says, "there are certain things -- in fact
very many things -- you can do with this project, but if you want to
give or sell it on to someone else, you must ensure that they can
patch or modify FluidSynth if they want to." Now an operating system
has come out with almost the opposite policy; it says, "if you
distribute software for this operating system, you must ensure that
nobody can modify or redistribute the software." You are in a strong
position, given that your code is LGPL licensed. You get to say, "that
isn't what we stand for, because we want to make sure that our users
can modify and redistribute the software," but instead, you are
considering saying, "oh OK, well since Apple has changed the rules, we
had better play along and allow our software to be locked onto certain
devices and certain versions."

> For this reason I wouldn't even mind if FluidSynth became
> BSD licensed, if it would help FluidSynth to continue to flourish as
> it has.

It sounds like you're saying "if we don't support iPhone, nobody will
continue working on FluidSynth." I strongly hope that isn't the case
(all software in the future runs only on Apple devices?)

> This to me seems like a larger
> issue with the LGPL and Apple.  I feel that making an example of Apple
> from the stance of the FluidSynth project is a wasted effort and could
> very well negatively impact this project.  If anyone was to take up
> arms for such a cause, it should be a larger coordinated effort in
> order to be effective.

I don't see this as "taking up arms" -- nobody is suggesting going to
court, just that the project would officially look down on LGPL
violations (it could even look the other way and do nothing about it).
I doubt that remaining LGPL is going to negatively impact this
project. You might as well say "All GPL projects switch to BSD now or
face the wrath of Apple fans." It seems excessive to change the
project license just to avoid "looking mean" when someone violates the
current license. Does anybody have any other examples of this playing
out, one way or the other, besides Wesnoth and VLC?

> allowing FluidSynth to be used on platforms such as the
> iPad, iPhone and other static compiled embedded environments

I think that "other static compiled embedded environments"
over-complicates this issue. The LGPL is not against static compiled
embedded environments. It has a specific clause in there which
supports static compiled code -- you just need to release object files
for the proprietary code to allow it to be re-linked with a modified
version of the library. This issue has come about specifically because
Apple has decided to make it impossible to run or distribute software
on their platform that is not signed by themselves, and also to impose
additional license terms on all software that runs on the platform.

> [ ] LGPL with an exception for static linking in embedded environments

Similarly, this option wouldn't help at all. The LGPL already has an
exception for static linking in embedded environments. If it didn't,
then nearly every router on the planet would be in violation of the

Anyway, as I said above, I would personally relicense my work under
the BSD or sign copyright over to another holder, just because I don't
want to be the "bad guy" / Rusty Russell. But I think that decision
would be a mistake.


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