Adding the GPL to Fluid license? - requesting input

Christopher D. Coppola chris.coppola at
Thu Jan 10 18:16:02 UTC 2008

Wow, this has sparked quite a conversation. I'd be a pretty strong -1  
on this. The key reason is that it's almost certain to create  
incompatible forks of the code. The GPL does not limit commercial  
usage necessarily. It does limit the ability of multiple open source  
projects on either end of the copyleft - non-copyleft spectrum to  
share code. It seems that Fluid's existing solution is the best  
balance between the two. The ECL is clearly non-copyleft and unclear  
whether it's GPL compatible. The BSD license is clearly compatible and  
the dual license strategy strikes a nice balance. Offering a GPL  
option is almost certain to create incompatible forks.

the rSmart group
Chris Coppola | 602.490.0472

On Jan 10, 2008, at 10:40 AM, Lennard Fuller wrote:

> Just to further clarify the difference between GPL and LGPL.  LGPL  
> does using the Lesser GPL permits use of the library in proprietary  
> programs.  For fluid this would mean that large companies could then  
> make use of fluid to build their products.  LGPL would also mean  
> that if a commercial company were to enhance fluid in any way, those  
> changes would have to be made open and available to the world.  A  
> full GPL license only allows non proprietary usage.  In short, a  
> full GPL limits your audience... and for software like fluid, in my  
> opinion, it would also limit the good such a product could do.
> Again, my vote would be to not use either LGPL or GPL, but if one  
> must be used, LGPL would seem to be the better course.
> -Lennard Fuller
> Lennard Fuller wrote:
>> So long as the customizations are also open and available there
>> shouldn't be any problems.  GPL does not require that the changes be
>> committed back into the project's root.  It is just that all of the
>> modifications must be open and available.  Problems really start when
>> GPL code is included into a proprietary application... there is a  
>> clause
>> in the license that then requires the entire application be made open
>> and available.  If the code being used is LGPL, and is used properly,
>> then by and large the 'viral' type restriction is removed.  IF the  
>> software is modified in any way, it does need to be open and  
>> available.
>> Mark Norton wrote:
>>> I had a look at Moodlerooms Terms of Service.  Had trouble accessing
>>> the site, so used Google Cache:
>>> Interesingly, there is VERY little mention of Moodle in the TOS.   
>>> This
>>> line is interesting, however:
>>> "Moodlerooms provides expertise and energy to train your  
>>> instructors,
>>> customize Moodle to your specifications, host Moodle at an
>>> enterprise-level stemming from superior hardware and software
>>> engineering, connect your legacy information systems to Moodle  
>>> through
>>> integrations, and convert your courses so that they work in Moodle."
>>> Customize Moodle, eh?  Sounds like thin ice to me.
>>> - Mark
>>> Lennard Fuller wrote:
>>>> MoodleRooms source code is open and available.  They also provide
>>>> services such as corporate hosting.  It is not that GPL precludes  
>>>> any
>>>> commercial usage... it is just that the license places some severe
>>>> limitations on how it can be used.  Personally, I am not for adding
>>>> the GPL license.  If we absolutely HAVE to have some form of the  
>>>> GPL,
>>>> please consider using the LGPL.
>>>> Mara Hancock wrote:
>>>>> This is very interesting. I agree with Mark that this seems like  
>>>>> an
>>>>> attempt to avoid the inevitable conflict between the licenses. I
>>>>> fear that it make the management of the code contributions so
>>>>> complicated that it will need a full time code gatekeeper. I came
>>>>> into the conversation late yesterday, but I thought  that Colin  
>>>>> had
>>>>> some very concrete examples of why he thought this might be a good
>>>>> thing. It would be good to hear those. Right now I am on the -1
>>>>> track but willing to be convinced otherwise. I would love to know
>>>>> the answer to the question about Moodle Rooms.
>>>>> Thanks, Mara
>>>>> On Jan 10, 2008, at 8:00 AM, Lennard Fuller wrote:
>>>>>> Many of my clients specifically ask me to avoid GPL, some of that
>>>>>> set of
>>>>>> clients will accept an LGPL if no other reasonable alternative  
>>>>>> exists.
>>>>>> Oddly enough... over the last 7 years I have yet to have had a  
>>>>>> single
>>>>>> client that has demanded the use of GPL exclusively.
>>>>>> -Lennard Fuller
>>>>>> Mark Norton wrote:
>>>>>>> This sounds like an attempt to please all of the people all of  
>>>>>>> the
>>>>>>> time.
>>>>>>> The fact is there are some very different philosophies in the  
>>>>>>> open
>>>>>>> source community, primarily divided between those who favor
>>>>>>> commercial
>>>>>>> use and those who don't. If Fluid is licensed (as it currently  
>>>>>>> is)
>>>>>>> under
>>>>>>> ECL 2.0, then the Sakai community will likely be satisfied,  
>>>>>>> since
>>>>>>> it has
>>>>>>> a more inclusive view of open source use. However, I suspect  
>>>>>>> that
>>>>>>> those
>>>>>>> in other camps will not be satisfied with a GPL license if it  
>>>>>>> is also
>>>>>>> licensed under ECL. What's the point, really?
>>>>>>> Who specifically needs a GPL license for Fluid?
>>>>>>> - Mark Norton
>>>>>>> Sheila Crossey wrote:
>>>>>>>> All,
>>>>>>>> We are considering adding the GPL to the Fluid licensing  
>>>>>>>> scheme and
>>>>>>>> are seeking input on the ramifications this would have.
>>>>>>>> Refresher:
>>>>>>>> Fluid is currently dual-licensed under ECL 2.0 and BSD  
>>>>>>>> licenses. The
>>>>>>>> BSD license was selected to enable combining with GPL- 
>>>>>>>> licensed code
>>>>>>>> (as BSD is deemed to be GPL compatible whereas ECL 2.0 is not)
>>>>>>>> and to
>>>>>>>> avoid forking of the code (BSD is not copyleft so code licensed
>>>>>>>> under
>>>>>>>> BSD can be merged into non-copyleft code).
>>>>>>>> Issue:
>>>>>>>> Some communities who license their code under the GPL will  
>>>>>>>> not adopt
>>>>>>>> any third party code unless it also is licensed under GPL; that
>>>>>>>> is, a
>>>>>>>> GPL-compatible license such as BSD does not solve the problem  
>>>>>>>> (even
>>>>>>>> though technically, it should).
>>>>>>>> Proposed solution:
>>>>>>>> Tri-license Fluid under ECL 2.0, BSD, and GPL V2.
>>>>>>>> GPL V3 was considered as an option, but rejected as there are  
>>>>>>>> some
>>>>>>>> parties who have licensed a considerable body of code under GPL
>>>>>>>> V2 and
>>>>>>>> who will not move to GPL V3 as they have various objections to
>>>>>>>> the new
>>>>>>>> terms. We can apply GPL V2 in a way that will permit the  
>>>>>>>> option of
>>>>>>>> applying GPL V3 to those who wish to.
>>>>>>>> Risk/Benefit:
>>>>>>>> The benefit would be potentially increased penetration and  
>>>>>>>> usage of
>>>>>>>> Fluid code.
>>>>>>>> One risk is that GPL communities could license their
>>>>>>>> modifications to
>>>>>>>> Fluid code solely under GPL thus creating a separate fork. The
>>>>>>>> chances
>>>>>>>> of this happening could be reduced by publicizing this negative
>>>>>>>> impact
>>>>>>>> of single-licensing under the GPL.
>>>>>>>> A second risk is that communities who are concerned about the
>>>>>>>> effects
>>>>>>>> of GPL’s copyleft terms might be uncomfortable adopting Fluid  
>>>>>>>> if the
>>>>>>>> GPL is one of the licenses which apply to it. We need input  
>>>>>>>> from
>>>>>>>> Sakai
>>>>>>>> regarding this.
>>>>>>>> As there may be other risks arising from the increased  
>>>>>>>> complexity of
>>>>>>>> tri-licensing and adding copyleft into the mix, I encourage  
>>>>>>>> anyone
>>>>>>>> with expertise, or access to it, to weigh in on this.
>>>>>>>> Sheila
>>>>>>>> ----------------------------------------------------------------
>>>>>>>> Sheila Crossey
>>>>>>>> Senior Project Coordinator
>>>>>>>> Adaptive Technology Resource Centre
>>>>>>>> Faculty of Information Studies
>>>>>>>> University of Toronto
>>>>>>>> voice: (416) 946-7820
>>>>>>>> fax: (416) 971-2896
>>>>>>>> email: sheila.crossey at
>>>>>>>> <mailto:sheila.crossey at>
>>>>>>>> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
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