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Ocaml license - why not GPL?
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Date: 2005-01-31 (09:18)
From: Sven Luther <sven.luther@w...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] Ocaml license - why not GPL?
On Mon, Jan 31, 2005 at 10:00:06AM +0100, Xavier Leroy wrote:
> > Hmmm... This is an interesting point! The toplevel library includes 
> > the compiler code, which is licensed under the QPL,
> Correct.
> > but yet somehow must be allowed to link to GPLed libraries and
> > programs.
> You meant: "I (Alessandro Baretta) needs to link it to GPLed libraries
> and programs".  There is no moral imperative of being able to link
> something with GPLed stuff.
> > If the toplevel library may not be linked with GPLed code,
> > then the toplevel itself become hardly usable,
> Again, you meant "... usable to me because of my choice of the GPL".
> > and a significant
> > portion of my code,  which is GPLed and links the toplevel library,
> > would be illegal.
> > Might the caml breeders please comment on this issue?
> Only if you stop calling me a "caml breeder".  Makes me feel like a
> nuclear reactor :-)
> More seriously:
> - The toplevel library is indeed covered by the QPL.
> - Clause 6 of the QPL is pretty clear.  In summary, it stipulates that
>   a QPL-ed library can be linked with pretty much any code that is
>   distributed as open source.  But please don't take my words for it:
>   read the license.
> - The problem in your case is most likely to be with the GPL, which
>   puts much stronger requirements on any piece of code that comes
>   in contact with GPL-ed code.  But don't take my word for it, as
>   I have no expertise (and no interest) in license compatibility issues.
>   Read the GPL, consult license experts, make up your mind.

No, i think the incompatibility is because the QPL buts stronger obligations
on the user of the code, obligations that go beyond the GPL. Clause 3b is such
an obligation which the GPL doesn't have for example, and thus make it
incompatible with the GPL, which doesn't allow for restrictions beyond those
imposed by the GPL.

Actually from a quick read of the current ocaml licence, i get a feeling that
only Clause 3b remains which is GPL incompatible, it would need another
reading thought to be sure about this. That said, the clause 3b is probably
the clause that was the one considered by the ocaml team to chose the QPL in
the first place, in order to be able to relicence ocaml under the Caml
Consortium umbrella, without needing additional paperwork to integrate outside
patches. A dual-licencing situation would maybe be cleaner, but more
cumbersome for you.

> - If it turns out you have a QPL/GPL incompatibility, you have exactly
>   three options:
>       1) don't use the toplevel library
>       2) put your code under another license than the GPL

The GPL exception mentioned in another mail in this thread should be enough i

>       3) get a more liberal license for OCaml by becoming a member
>          of the Caml Consortium.

/me wonders if becoming part of the Caml Consortium would allow someone to get
a GPLed (or BSDed) version of ocaml :)

> > This bothers me quite a bit. Am I to expect a legal pursuit from INRIA 
> > for violating the QPL for having released mixed GPL+QPL code?
> No, because you didn't violate our license (the requirements set by
> the QPL are met).
> > Or am I to pursue myself because the QPL breaks my own GPLed code?
> This is more like it :-)  You, or your customers.  Remember,
> inconsistent license = no license = nobody can do anything with your code.
> > I would really appreciate an official response from the INRIA people. I 
> > think Ocaml is a great tool for commercial free software development, 
> > but in order to be able to build a thriving business I must make sure 
> > that Xavier et al. won't meet me with a team of Dobermans to settle 
> > copyright issues...
> Again, your problems are not with us.  The ones that could come after
> you are your customers.

Also my analysis.


Sven Luther