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Re: What license to use for Emacs libraries?

From: Phillip Lord
Subject: Re: What license to use for Emacs libraries?
Date: Wed, 19 Aug 2015 17:00:11 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.5 (gnu/linux)

Marcin Borkowski <address@hidden> writes:
>> In general, if you are asking for advice on what you can and cannot do,
>> and do not want to get into a big license battle (god knows, there have
>> been enough of this), it's probably politic to avoid use of terms such
>> as "evil" for any licence.
> Well, I do not want to be politic;-).  I not only don't care about the
> so-called "political correctness", I deliberately violate it if I can.
> I probably should have said "wrong" instead of evil, though, since
> I meant the rather technical sense "violating moral principles" (well,
> not exactly violating, but close to - I lack a good English word for
> what I have in mind).

The word "politic" means "sensible in the circumstances" and is not the
same as political correctness. I wouldn't conflate the two.

There are two questions at hand, though, one technical and one ethical.
If you want to get an answer to your technical question, I wouldn't
conflate the ethical question, is all I am suggesting.

>>> Does it mean that the famous issue "Is Emacs a program, or an OS" is of
>>> critical importance here?
>> No. While your legal system may take a different opinion on this, the
>> FSF has a relatively explicit meaning to this statement. You can run
>> Emacs on the same OS as propietary software, yet alone GPLv2 software.
>> If two libraries communicate only through a file system, or a pipe, or
>> do not communicate at all, then there is no combined work, just
>> "aggregation". If there is a direct function call in the same VM (lisp
>> or otherwise), there is a combined work.
> Thanks for the clarification, though I would still maintain that it
> seems a bit hazy.  I'm not in the mood to start another battle on such
> a minor issue, happily;-).

GPL is a legal document. The law is not based around precise
specifications, but around notions of case law and reasonableness. It is hazy.

>>> Also, the suggested licenses for GitHub repos seem to be Apache 2.0,
>>> MIT and GPLv2. GPLv3 is also there, but further down the list and not
>>> in bold, so it's well possible that many people who don't really care
>>> much about all this stuff (see above) just select GPLv2 and forget
>>> about the thing. Does that mean that GitHub is a part of a sinister
>>> software-patent conspiracy or something?
>> Github's motivations are, of course, not something that any sensible
>> person would wish to infer on a public mailing list without clear
>> evidence, at least not if they do not with to be committing libel, which
>> is a whole other part of the law.
> I didn't "infer" anything.  I just asked, jokingly.  You mentioned libel
> (thanks for teaching me yet another English word!), also jokingly (or so
> I hope).

Yes, you asked. I did not reply because then I would have had to infer
something. No, I wasn't joking about libel. The UK law on libel is very

>> Who is right and wrong is probably an issue which would be better off
>> discussed on gnu.misc.discuss, rather than
> Well, my main question was much more technical, and I do not want to
> discuss moral issues at the moment.  (As I hinted, I want to make my
> standpoint clear, I do expect that some (many?) people will disagree,
> but I want to explain that I have /reasons/ to avoid GPL.)

It is good to know that, although I would generally answer without.

> Thanks for your detailed answer!

Hope it was helpful.


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