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[Lcdproc] Re: GPL and loadable module

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  • From: n9ubh AT (David Douthitt)
  • Subject: [Lcdproc] Re: GPL and loadable module
  • Date: Thu Dec 6 22:39:01 2001

Mr. Mailing wrote:

> GPL first as it might be very important...
> We are going to introduce loadable module in lcdproc API v0.5.
> 1) This mean from a technical point of view that other program could use our
> module for displaying on LCD.
> 2) Also from a technical point of view it also mean that someone could write
> a module without giving the code for it.
> AFAIK our little project is GNU GPL licenced.

Little?? :)

> So (1) and (2) are linking GPL to potentially non-GPL code.
> We need to know what the GPL say about this and what we want about this.
> I know this is a potential loophole in the GPL and at least Linux kernel is
> having an issue with this.
> Linus choose to accept non-GPL module to support closed module.
> And RMS is not happy about this at all.

RMS is known for giving no quarter on such things, and has alienated a
large number of the Open Source movement, including some that agree with

> But we are here on the same project and need to know what is possible (from
> a licence point of view) and what we really want.

As I understand it, GPL code cannot be incorporated into new proprietary
code, but proprietary code can use GPL libraries, and gcc can be used to
create proprietary code, and so forth.

> I need main developer input on this issue.
> It is a VERY important issue for me.
> I personally don't wan't a closed application to benefit from my free work.
> If they want to use part of my work on MtxOrb driver, they can talk the
> protocol and connect to LCDd accross the network.

I guess I'm more open than that. Not so long ago, I had to deal with
licensing when it came to my floppy-based distribution. I wound up
selecting the MIT/X License (now the same as the BSD license) for the
distribution, but used the GPL for individual program binaries.

For anyone to use the MtxOrb.c code, they'd have to abide by the GPL.
However, if someone wrote a new (dynamically loaded) driver for LCDd, it
could potentially be a proprietary binary-only library. In the same
way, one could create a proprietary client for LCDd.

To me, there are a lot of reasons to allow proprietary dynamically
loaded modules, and Linux is a good example of how beneficial it can
be. Some of the reasons:

* High-profile corporate sponsors
* Wider distribution of program
* Support for more displays, products, etc.

There's any number of places you can go to see both sides of the
argument. Probably the champions of either side are the GNU Project
(GPL) and the FreeBSD team (BSD License).

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