{October 31, 2007}   qt and gpl3

I’m confused here. I feel like there’s something I’m not getting.
see, we have this problem: qt is gpl2-only. samba is gpl3. kde is gpl2-only because it links to qt. gpl2-only code cannot link to gpl3 code because of the way gpl2 is written. the result: kde stuff can’t link to samba stuff.

however, qt has actually added some extra freedoms to its open source version, which allow the kde libraries to be lgpl instead of gpl, and allow code using an assortment of other opensource licenses to link to qt too.

so, why can’t trolltech just add gpl3 to that list of alternative licenses?
if it did that, then theoretically kde could begin switching to gpl3, still be allowed to link to qt, and gain the legal ability to link to samba code and whatever else is on its way to gpl3-land.

it seems like a much simpler action for the lawyers to approve than changing all of qt to be gpl3. wouldn’t it be easier to do this asap, and then return to pondering the implications of gpl3’d qt?

of course, IANAL, so perhaps it’s not as simple as all this. trolltech must have already considered it, right? if it was so simple they’d have already done it, right? but I figured I’d mention it anyways. just in case.

[edit] Luis is right; you just can’t link a gpl2 library and a gpl3 library into the same program. the result would have to satisfy both licenses, and that’s impossible. I knew it couldn’t be this simple. oh well… that’s what I get for blogging when I should be sleeping.

Luis says:

As far as I understand gpl3 (which is not much) it can only link to gpl3. So, even if troltech adds gpl3 to the list of “extra freedoms” it is going to be gpl3 the one how prevents the compatibility.
Correct me if I’m rong!

Leo says:

GPL3 is a response to a non-issue, which will cause huge headaches for KDE and Trolltech. And what for? To close some minor loopholes like Tivo? What a huge waste of time.

Basically, if Trolltech decides never to allow the GPL3 (which they have every right to do), KDE will be increasingly marginalized as its dependencies move to GPL3. Either that or complicated dbus communication layers will have to be devised to hack features in that we can no longer link to.

I’m a big proponent of Free as in Freedom, but the GPL3 achieves nothing but to cause extra work, extra legal hassle, and even more license confusion. As if there weren’t enough challenges to OSS adoption without the FSF creating new ones.

Trolltech can’t add GPL3 to the list of allowed licenses, because the GPL2 forbids mixing with code that is more restrictive than itself, and the GPL3 is more restrictive than GPL2 so they can’t mix.

maxjen says:

Why is GPLv3 software preventing the compatibility with GPLv2 but not with LGPL?

And could people continue using GPLv3 if they bought a Qt license?(i’m not saying they should, only want to know if it is possible)

maxjen says:

Ok, the above comment cleared things up for me.

Erunno says:

“And could people continue using GPLv3 if they bought a Qt license?”

You cannot continue using GPLv3 because you never had the right to use it to begin with. And I would be very surprised if Trolltech actually cared if you distribute your Code under the GPL as long as they get the proper license fees.

maron says:

Sometimes things like this make me wonder why the hell RMS associates this licences with “freedom”.
If there is no choice, there is no freedom…
And *forcing* projects to move from GPLv2 to GPLv3 is just everything else than freedom.
The GPLv2 in its core is fine. So the GPLv3. But why this stupid restrictions that will just cause trouble.
Actually I can not see any real benefit from it…
If a projects chooses to use switch to GPLv3 because they prefer the additional clauses – that’s fine. But why, oh why should EVERY related project follow (that is already under a “free” licence as the GPLv2)?
“Freedom” is in something else, atleast in my eyes.

Thomas Zander says:

What Luis says is true, but I’m not sure how relevant it is; only if an application is GPLv2 and not LGPLv2 or simply uses the ‘or later’ part his point is true. This is not the case for the majority of KDE software out there.

AFAIK (and I’m no expert) the solution you propose would be a nice one, but no perfect one. All the library code would then also have to have this license. Which is a bit annoying and IMOHO would actually create a bigger license mess.

Dan says:

GPL3 addresses an issue which caused much headache for embedded OSS developers. Namely, the purpose of the GPL was effectively nullified by the user’s inability to alter the software of certain embedded systems.

Talking about the purpose is a strong statement, I know, but it is clear to me that this directly effects the intent of the GPL. The GPL safeguards a user’s ability to alter the software they use. If the GPL existed to safeguard the interests of developers who wish to freely distribute code then it would appear something akin to the New BSD license. In recognizing, in a utilitarian manner, that the granting of the freedom to modify to users is greater than the granting of freedom from repercussion to developers the FSF has clearly made itself a user-oriented foundation. The GPL clearly restricts a developer’s freedom in selecting distribution terms.

What does this mean? To me, it means that the embedded loophole present in the GPL2 necessarily required patching in order to support the goals of the FSF.

Back to QT and GPL2. Trolltech likely is unwilling to move to GPL3 to protect the interests of both its patent holdings (which are clearly diminished in value by a move to GPL3) and of its customers. QT is becoming fairly popular in the embedded arena, and I can imagine there are a fair number of customers who pay for support but not a binary-only license who would be quite disappointed to see QT switch to GPL3.

Chani says:

gpl3 also provides some protection from microsoft’s nasty patent nonsense. heck, it looks like it *almost* tricked MS into not being able to assert any of its patents against us – but I don’t think that little legal blunder will actually work out that way.

Bluebird says:

Atually, I read that Trolltech is investigating adding GPL v3 to the list of license. But this is not something that can be done lightly and quickly. They need some legal advice, and GPL v3 has more obligations than GPL v2 or other typical Free Software licences. So, it will take time.

Dan says:

The Patent Crisis should be solved with legislative reform, not licenses.

Who will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes?

Chani says:

should, yes. there’s a lot of things that *should* be done by governments, but since they’re not doing it (although I have hope that they eventually will), we’ve got to do *something* to protect ourselves in the meantime.

ideally I think patents should just be totally abolished – they’re doing far more harm than good these days – but when you look at where the money flows, you can tell that’s not going to happen unless there are some rather huge changes in how the government itself operates (and probably the economy too).

Dan says:

-We- are the government. You don’t like the legislation bought by lobbyists? Get together with a thousand of your friends and make a difference.

Turns out letter writing works. At least, in Canada. Hellen Scherrier (Spel?) was ousted over Bill C-60 last term, Bev Oda will likely be ousted soon, the Bill C-60 is opposed by much of the opposition (the NDP especially), et cetera. And it’s all due to a handful of pissed-off techies writing in regularly.

See, in Canada they’re -required- to respond to all mail from constituents. ;)

Patents never worked. Ever. They’re totally contrary to the innovation and development process and have never been effective in supporting innovation at the small-developer level; which was their intent.

Chani says:

well, I can’t really do anything about the american patent system (which is what seems to be the biggest problem, even for canadian companies) but I probably should see what I can do when I get back to canada… I’ve never actually figured out *who* to write a letter to. it seems kinda hard to find information specifically about canada and not america. got any useful links?
based on a quick google, I’m not even sure whether you can patent code or genes in canada…

Marius says:

Actually I have my own opinion about all of this. First of all a little into. I’m from Romania , and here , much like in China ( Chani probably knows ) we don’t really give a damn about copyright and such. Sure , you might say that’s bad and I tend to agree , thing is that’s how it is and that’s that.
Living here made me care less about it so what I’m saying is that I don’t really care myself. If I can get some code and I have to use both GPL 2 and GPL 3 and CDDL I for one don’t really care , I’ll do it. I know , I know , I shouldn’t , I’m just saying I would and I don’t care that mush. And if I had to throw in some code under a MS license that prohibits modifying I’d modify that too and get it in there too :)). By this time some of you are probably already horrified and I might be way off I know.
The thing is why do all these licenses and stuff keep things from progressing. I have the code but I can’t use it because of the license and I must thus rewrite it instead of writing something else and extending it. That’s one of the reasons why we don’t have the nice Sun ZFS in Linux for instance.
Just my 2 cents anyway …

Dan says:

Marius: so what you’re saying is, you’re a thief and you want to profit off of your ill-gotten goods?

Fuck off.

Chani says:

dan: copyright infringment isn’t theft. there are countries outside the US that *gasp* have different laws! some of them have stricter ideas of copyright, some have much less strict ones. copyright laws are not sacred commandments, as much as the RIAA would like us to think so.

so, *you* fuck off. nyahh.

Marius says:

Dan I’m not saying it’s OK it’s just what I’d like to do sometimes. Breaking laws is not OK but then you have to think if those laws and stuff are any good . Like patents in the US , is that OK ? And isn’t all this code licensing a bit silly . You have the code right there but it doesn’t have the right license and you can’t use it ? Maybe it’s just me but doesn’t OK. I even heard something that they needed Mono people to not have looked at MS released code. What if I one day decided to take a peek , I’d be altered for life and not able to contribute to Mono ? It’s getting silly…. And maybe if there were problems between closed licenses like MS ones and truly open source ones but to have problems using GPL 2 and GPL 3 together this is just too much IMO.
And now about software and the whole copyright issue and theft. It’s not correct to call it theft . Stealing is when you deprive somebody of something. You can’t really steal software since you only make a copy. Making a copy and using it is illegal in most countries but it’s not always as easy as it sounds.
In theory using pirated software is illegal in Romania but the law isn’t really enforced. And here’s a real world problem. At school we have to learn and prove that we know PowerPoint … And no , not OpenOffice Presentation or something , MS PowerPoint. That’s what our teacher know anb that’s what she’s asking for. I’ll try to convince her to use OO but the chances are small , she doesn’t know OO so how can she test me if I know it ? There are now 2 things I could do . spend all that I make in a month ( wages in Romania are small ) and buy MS Office or just go to a torrent site , get it , burn it , pass the exam and the get rid of it. I also will probably require MS Windows cause wine doesn’t really shine when using Windows progs. even though it does work.
And after all does MS really need my money ? What will it do with them , pay their programmers , sure but also bribe a bit here and there ( see Mandriva scandal ). So I’m sorry , call me a thief but I’m not paying for Office or Windows …
And I could go on and on , do money paid on music really go to the artist ? And if you enjoy making music so much , do you really need to get rich doing it ? Sure , make a living from making music but you can do that with concerts alone if you’re popular. Having ppl pay for your music is needed just to make you rich , don’t tell me artist would starve if it weren’t for music sales. And would Britney Spears be singing if it weren’t for the money , just out of passion ….
It’s not alway black and white anyway , there are shades of gray sometimes , often even. So please don’t be so quick to judge people by your standards . We aren’t the some , and we don’t live in the same places.
P.S. : Thanks Chani :)

Dan says:

The “copyright infringement isn’t theft” argument is tenuous at best when applied to profitable and/or commercial infringement. No longer are you (possibly) causing a lost sale, but are now directly competing with the original producer! Instead of a single lost sale you potentially cut a huge swath into their revenue streams, or at least, dilute the value of their product.

Besides, I strongly believe plagiarism is theft. Copying code without permission is plagiarism. It’s all theft. But that’s a matter of belief. ;)

Marius: I don’t pay for Office, Windows, Visual Studio, et al. I use Open Source. There is -no reason- to pirate software.

I pay for music, I’m sick of the likes of Buck ’65 tossing it in due to dismal sales (but oddly massive popularity). But then, if you can’t afford to pay for it, why not make your own? It’s not hard, and a hell of a lot more rewarding than Britney Spears’ latest trash. Or, hell, look into the local Indie scene.

Please avoid contributions to any OSS project until your viewpoint significantly alters. Your mentioning of your willingness to plagiarize code brings any commit you make into extreme suspect. Having to deal with the legality of software commits is a whole extra headache and cost OSS projects shouldn’t have to deal with.

ReactOS did a code freeze and audit that lasted a year because one of their developers was revealed to /possibly/ have illegitimate access to Microsoft source.

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