Acedb license: was Re: bioWidgets

Simon Kelley simon at kelley.demon.co.uk
Fri Apr 3 10:31:13 EST 1998


It seems that no self-respecting newsgroup is complete these days
without a thread discussing the arcana of software licenses, so I'll
take advantage of the do-biowidgets-need-free-source discussion to bring
this up.


The current license for acedb is shown below.  It's clear and very
short.

/* Copyright (C) 1991 R Durbin and J Thierry-Mieg. All rights reserved.
 * Written by Jean Thierry Mieg and Richard Durbin, 1990, 1991.
 * Redistribution and use in source and binary forms are freely
 * permitted provided that the above copyright notice and 
 * attribution and date of work and this paragraph are duplicated 
 * in all such forms and that neither this software nor software
 * based in whole or in part on this software is sold for profit.
 * THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED "AS IS" AND WITHOUT ANY EXPRESS OR
 * IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, THE IMPLIED
 * WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTIBILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR 
 * PURPOSE.
 */

In fact it's so short that it doesn't address lots of the questions that
the free software world has grappled with for the last ten years. See 
news:news.mozilla.com/public.netscape.mozilla.license and
http://www.fsf.org/

A few which spring to mind are:

1) The 'not sold for profit' clause would seem to stop the commercial
production of CDs on the cheapbytes model, which has been shown to be
advantageous.

2) The license doesn't cover the status of third-party code added to
acedb, for example the gd library used in giface.

3) The license doesn't talk about the rights of contributers to acedb
_other_ than Richard and Jean.

3) I'm not sure if the acedb copyright is strictly compatible with the
Gnu Public Licence, should anybody wish to use GPL code in acedb. The
restriction on distribution 'for profit' and the lack of insistence that
source code accompany binaries for derived works are both problems here.
Would anybody who understands these issues like to  comment?




Maybe Richard and Jean should clarify the situation by releasing under
the GPL or some other pre-established free license of their choice.

Simon.

-- 
Simon Kelley
simon at kelley.demon.co.uk




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