Subject Re: [IBDI] Re: [ib-support] OT: comments re: attracting users to interbase
Author David K. Trudgett
On Thursday 2002-02-14 at 12:49:32 +0900, Ann W. Harrison wrote:
> >
> > > > On Friday 2002-02-08 at 07:46:04 -0500, Paul Schmidt wrote:
> > > >
> > > > > [MySQL] also could win an obfustication contest for it's licence, it's
> > > > > sometimes GPL and other times not GPL, such as for commercial use...
> > >
> > > On 11 Feb 2002, at 10:41, David K. Trudgett wrote:
> > > > Sounds illegal. The GPL doesn't allow conditions like that.
> > > >
> >On Monday 2002-02-11 at 12:38:15 -0500, Paul Schmidt wrote:
> > >
> > > Essentially, without paying a lawyer to figure it out, from what I
> > > understand they have two licences, a GPL one (not LGPL -- which
> > > would negate the other licence) which is fine if your developing stuff
> > > that will be GPL, but if your doing commercial projects, then they
> > > have a commercial licence, and it's not cheap.
> At 02:33 AM 2/13/2002 +1100, David K. Trudgett wrote:
> >My comment would be that, without having read the actual doc (which I
> >may well do when I get half a chance), such a restriction is in effect
> >unenforceable and no restriction at all.
> Having read GPL (and several other licenses) quite carefully and having
> consulted with several lawyers, I think that what MySQL is doing is both
> legal and reasonably straightforward. MySQL AB is the copyright holder
> and has the right to offer the product under different licenses.

Certainly. They do, however, try to give the impression that
commercial license fees must be paid under certain circumstances.
Since one may license the product under the GPL, this is not actually

They also say that a client application developed to the mySQL public
interface consitutes a "linked" application within the meaning of the
GPL. This would actually be a lie if they had openly stated that as a
fact (they instead indicate that it is their "interpretation" of the
GPL -- a plainly wrong interpretation, since such API interfaces are
specifically excluded from the definition of "linking" by the GPL).

So, contrary to their claims, I may develop a client application for
the mySQL server, distribute my application under whatever license
I like, and distribute the mySQL server under the GPL.

I also noted that I could not find any license on their website
besides the GPL (it could be there lurking somewhere that wasn't
obvious to me, but I didn't find it).

> The GPL is a restrictive license.

The GPL is a free license, designed to promote freedom. Not everyone
wants freedom, of course, such as people trying to sell their
applications according to the normal commercial model. That's fine.
These people shouldn't use the GPL. Nor should they expect a free ride
by incorporating GPL'd software into their binaries. Share and share
alike is what it's about. As for it being "viral", that's a load of
poppycock. Use the public API of GPL'd software and don't link it into
your executables (statically or dynamically) and you're quite safe.

> Products licensed under GPL can not
> be combined with products distributed under other licenses. Specifically,
> the GPL requires that all software that uses GPL products must be GPL -
> provided with source and available for free redistribution. This is
> called "copy left" by the Free Software Foundation, and "viral licensing"
> by the rest of the world.

Only by those who would like to benefit from other people's work
without giving anything back (like Borland's attitude to open source
InterBase). Borland can only get away with that because of the IPL,
which is not a free software license according to the FSF definition.

> So, if you're developing Free Software under the FSF definition, you
> can use the GNU licensed MySQL. If you want to protect the sources
> of your program or restrict your customers' ability pass it on to
> their friends, you need a commercial license.

Not true, as I explained above. It is only true if you want to link
the mySQL code into your application. Developing a client/server
application does not fall into this category.

> That is a significant difference between Firebird (and InterBase Open
> Edition) and MySQL. Our license does not affect the licenses of products
> built on our databases.

A GPL'd InterBase/Firebird would make no difference to most developers
(the client/server developers). It might make a difference to embedded
application developers who might develop applications that directly
embed IB/FB code.

Thanks for your thoughts, Ann, but I must say there is a lot of
misunderstanding and unfounded fear surrounding the GPL, especially
with emotive terms like "viral" being bandied about indiscriminately.
It's not as if anyone is ever forced to license their software under
the GPL. Those who do so, do so for a reason, and that is that they
want to ensure that their software, and any enhancements to it, remain
free for everyone to use. If this model of sharing is inappropriate in
a particular circumstance, then simply don't use it; but then don't at
the same time expect to take without giving.


David Trudgett