Re: [eigen] About the BSD license

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On Wed, Feb 3, 2010 at 12:03 AM, Benoit Jacob <jacob.benoit.1@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> Hi,
> I thought that I'd keep the list informed of what happened over the
> past few days.
> I've been discussing licenses with VTK developers (BSD license) who
> are considering Eigen,
> According to them, basically, proprietary software companies won't
> accept to depend on LGPL software. Obviously I don't agree with them,
> since Eigen _is_ used by several such companies. And moreover there
> are plenty of examples of large industrial project that have LGPL
> components (for example the core components of WebKit, WebCore and
> JavaScriptCore, are LGPL, and that doesn't prevent Apple from
> accepting that deep into its software stack).
> The interesting thing that came out of this is that it forced me to
> look deeper into the LGPL (as a result the FAQ was updated) and I am
> now entirely certain that in the special case of a headers-only like
> Eigen, the LGPL license is equivalent to BSD + "no proprietary forks".
> So the only change that the BSD license would bring would be:
> 1) allowing proprietary forks.
> 2) having a simpler license.
> 1) is simply not wanted. I had a conversation with Gael about this and
> we're sure that we don't want to allow proprietary forks.

Me too. I am pretty strongly against proprietary forks. LGPL is good
enough for anyone not wanting to mess with eigen's internals. People
interested in eigen, but who otherwise suffer from license-phobia,
ought to know better or code better.
> 2) would be nice, but can't be as important as BSD fans have it sound
> like. Licenses are complex, that's life. I sure would like to have a
> simpler license, so I wrote to a FSFE guy about that, but so far there
> doesn't seem to exist any simple weak copyleft license. And simplicity
> is not, in my opinion, important enough to give up our weak-copyleft.
> I'll add that the typical succesful BSD-licensed project doesn't look
> like Eigen. Eigen is, so far, a 100% volunteer project. Even if it got
> support from a company in the future, it is a hard requirement that it
> remains forever a friendly place for volunteers to contribute. Some of
> us have expressed that they may not want to contribute to a
> BSD-licensed project, out of fear that their work may be misused by a
> third party (proprietary forks). I'm not sure how much I share this
> concern, but it is clearly a legitimate concern. That's got to have
> something to do with why successful BSD-licensed projects are
> typically developed by full-time paid developers.
> Conclusion: move along, nothing to see here. Looks like the LGPL is
> the right match for us and for our users, and users who are interested
> enough in Eigen should be able to overcome a little phobia of matches
> of the .*GPL regular expression.
> Cheers
> Benoit

Rohit Garg

Senior Undergraduate
Department of Physics
Indian Institute of Technology

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