[Xapian-discuss] commercial license

James Aylett james-xapian at tartarus.org
Mon Dec 8 13:30:43 GMT 2008

On Mon, Dec 08, 2008 at 12:44:32AM +0000, Olly Betts wrote:

> > Alternatively, you might want to consider a client-server arrangement,
> I think you need to be careful with this approach.
> This is just a layman's view, but if you create a client/server split
> for the sole purpose of avoiding having the GPL licence on code in the
> server apply to the client, it seems to me that there's a strong
> argument that the client and server form a single work, which is derived
> from the GPL code, and so the GPL applies to the client.  (And it's
> morally bankrupt even if it's legal!)

I suspect that legally there's a difficulty in distinguishing between
(say) building a client that can talk over a network protocol you
designed, where you intend to implement multiple backends but only
ever implement a Xapian-based one; and doing the same with no intent
to implement multiple backends. (ISTR a lawyer telling me once that
it's difficult to reason on intent when the outcome would be identical
with different intents; but this in no way constitutes an informed
analysis of anything!)

"Morally bankrupt" I'd agree with in general. However given our own
FAQ entry on the subject, Xapian's situation perhaps muddies this

I agree that it's dicey, though. Anyone in this position should seek
legal advice as necessary.

> Taking the client-server split towards the other extreme, if I use
> Apache as an HTTP server and Firefox to fetch web pages from it, we have
> two components developed independently and using a standard protocol
> developed largely by independent entities, and either component can be
> replaced with many alternative implementations.  I think you'd really
> struggle to argue that either is a derivative work of the other.

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