[Xapian-devel] Xapian license change
charlie at juggler.net
Thu May 17 16:23:40 BST 2012
On 17/05/2012 16:16, Dan Colish wrote:
> The more I read on this thread the more I am confused. I'm starting
> to wonder who's asking for relicensing here because its starting to
> read like we, the Xapian developers, are asking how to relicense and
> what work we'd need to do. That is not the case. A request like this
> comes up once or twice a year and the requestor usually disappears a
> week later.
> You need to be a part of the community to have this discussion. I'm
> sure anyone can appreciate what it is like for an outsider to tell
> you how to do things. So please, join the community, get to know its
> members, and write patches or create documentation. Help us improve
> Xapian for a bit, then we can talk about why the licensing needs to
> change and how to go about it. Remember, our time is an extremely
> precious resource and I would like to use that time to make Xapian
> better rather than rewriting code so it can be relicensed.
To rewind a little, at least one of the people asking about this is from
a company interested in using Xapian in their products but unable to
because of the GPL. They have indicated they may be able to fund some
development towards this end. Surely sponsored development of Xapian is
a good thing?
> -- Dan
> On Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 1:04 AM, Wichert Akkerman wrote:
>> Hi Olly,
>> there is a lot of information in your email that I was not able to
>> find anywhere else. Perhaps it would be useful to create a
>> relicensing-FAQ page on the wiki with this information?
>> On 05/17/2012 04:07 AM, Olly Betts wrote:
>>> What's best to work on depends on what your skills and interests
>>> are. If anyone is seriously interested in contributing in this
>>> way, it probably makes most sense to simply discuss what's best
>>> for you to work on, either here, or on IRC.
>> I don't know exactly how much time I can contribute and I certainly
>> will not claim to be an expert on the underlying technology, but I
>> am interested and willing to help.
>>>> As far as I can see several things would need to happen:
>>>> * a new license (or set of licenses) will need to be chosen *
>>>> current copyright holders will need to sign off on the
>>>> relicensing * dependencies on GPLed libraries (think getopt)
>>>> will need to replaced
>>> Actually, GNU getopt is LGPL v2 or later (or at least so says
>>> the licensing boilerplate on the version we're using).
>> That helps. There was a wiki page which explicitly mentioned
>> wanting to replace getopt with something like popt for licensing
>> reasons, which is why I mentioned it.
>>>> Looking at older posts and the xapian website it seems that
>>>> LGPL has been suggested as an alternative license, but I can
>>>> not find a clear decision.
>>> I don't think we have a totally firm decision currently, but it
>>> is likely we'd go for either LGPL v2+ or MIT/X (with the latter
>>> probably being the favourite). We currently ask for patches to be
>>> dual-licensed under GPL v2+ and MIT/X, as the latter should give
>>> us compatibility with any Free Software licence:
>> Looking at commit logs that means everything since November 13 2009
>> is already dual licensed.
>>>> Judging by the copyright statements in the sources (for
>>>> xapian-core) there are 18 copyright holders, which is a
>>>> manageable list:
>>> Some of these are on code which is already under a liberal
>>> licence, so aren't a concern here. Most of the rest have already
>>>> Does anyone have any idea how willing these copyright holders
>>>> might be to approve relicensing?
>>> The ones we don't have agreement from are:
>>> * BrightStation PLC - it's not even clear who actually holds
>>> this copyright now, and we've heard competing claims. I discussed
>>> a potential LGPL relicensing with one claimant, but it went
>>> nowhere useful. This is where the code Xapian has evolved from
>>> was originally developed, so the oldest code (1999-2001) has
>>> this copyright, and over time it has been gradually replaced, but
>>> there is still a significant amount left.
>>> * Ananova Ltd - Another old copyright (from 2001-2002). I tried
>>> talking to them about relicensing some years ago, but their
>>> lawyers seemed more interested in trying to get me to
>>> retroactively sign an employment contract which I'd refused to
>>> sign at the time due to an unreasonable "no compete" clause.
>>> * Orange PCS Ltd - From 2003 and only affects one file, which is
>>> also (C) BrightStation and Ananova. Orange bought Ananova, so
>>> it's unlikely we'd get this relicensed either, but it doesn't
>>> really matter as we'd need to replace this file anyway.
>> Do you have a list of the code still owned by those three, so that
>> can be turned into a TODO list? A quick grep shows 100 files with
>> a BrightStation PLC copyright but nothing more recent than 2001,
>> which suggests that a lot of that code has already been replaced
>> over time.
>>> There are some issues we haven't yet really reached a conclusion
>>> on that I can recall.
>>> * If we go for MIT/X, are we happy to have LGPL dependencies?
>>> This came up in the context of some of the GSoC proposals this
>>> year, as some of the machine learning libraries we might want to
>>> use are LGPL.
>> Are those dependencies required or optional? If the intention is
>> to allow give people using Xapian all the freedoms the MIT/X
>> license provides over LGPL than requiring on LGPL dependencies is
>> not desirable since those will still pull in the extra
>> restrictions. If the extra dependencies are optional (for example a
>> user may not be interested extra ML features) users can pick and
>>> * If LGPL dependencies are OK, what about bundled LGPL code
>>> (like GNU getopt)?
>> I don't think bundling or not makes any difference. Shipping code
>> under multiple licenses in a single deliverable is quite common.
>> You just need to be careful in marking which license(s) apply
>>> * Exactly what are we aiming to relicense?
>>> + xapian-core: We clearly want to have libxapian.so relicensed,
>>> but the tools probably matter less, and the testsuite could
>>> easily just remain GPL.
>>> + xapian-bindings: Since I rewrote most of the SWIG interface
>>> file to directly parse the C++ headers, there isn't actually a
>>> lot of the older code left here, but there is still some. It
>>> would be good to sort out the PHP bindings in particular, so they
>>> can be packaged again (currently GPL and PHP licences are
>>> apparently incompatible due to the rather pointless naming
>>> restriction the PHP licence imposes).
>>> + xapian-omega: This can probably remain GPL. I don't think it's
>>> a top priority anyway.
>>> + xapian-letor: New code, so easy to relicense.
>>> There's also an argument for consistent licensing, as that's
>>> much easier to understand and to explain to users.
>> Does that mean your proposal is to relicense everything except the
>> xapian-core testsuite and xapian-omega?
>> Regards, WIchert.
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