Licensing Policy

Having established the goals of the GJT licensing policy, this page will define the GJT licesing policy.

The GJT will officially use a three tier licensing scheme. The tiers, in order of preference, are:

  • Public Domain
  • GNU Library General Public License
  • GNU General Public License

The GNU GPL is the minimum licensing that the GJT project will accept. You may wish to review the reasons for selecting the GPL. While we expect much of the source code on the GJT to be issued under the GPL, we encourage you to think higher.

Many people prefer to use the LGPL for their package simply because they want commercial entities to feel comfortable with using the code in their commercial products. If the source were licensed under the GPL, the company would be forced to release their own source code along with the product, all under the GPL. This is not desirable for these entities. With the LGPL, the requirements are less stringent, allowing the company to keep their own source code proprietary, continue to sell the application, and all they have to do is give proper credit to your code, and either provide your code with the product, or provide an easy means to obtain it.

We strongly encourage you to consider the LGPL over the GPL for precisely the reason that commercial entities may reuse your code. Many programmers have landed good contracts to support or enhance their free software due to companies basing products on their code. Further, many companies are good cititizens, and in turn contribute money, hardware, and even source code to free software projects. In fact, one company that I worked for contributed $5,000US to the Free Software Foundation, because our critical application was compiled with gcc and made with gmake. The company also released several of the libraries we wrote under the LGPL.

Finally, if you are thinking of using the LGPL for your code, may we suggest that you just take that final step and release your source code into the public domain? Public domain source code is truely the most free software possible. Therefore, it follows that public domain source code is the most reusable form of source code possible; not in a technical sense, but in an ownership sense. There are actually few instances of source code that truly need the protections afforded by the GPL and LGPL.

Think of all those beautiful christmas songs that are a caroler's stock-in-trade. Now imagine if the caroler had to finish their evening of joy by writing a check to BMI for the right to sing those songs. Public domain things promote the public good. Public domain source code promotes computing.

What about that "no legal action" goal?
Well, any good lawyer is going to remind you that you can be sued over anything, including a contract that says you can not be sued! That is the entire reason people agree that too many lawyers is not a good thing.

Anyway, the GPL and LGPL licenses specifically spell out that the user of the surce code assumes all responsibility for the use of that source code. I am not sure if it is possible to improve upon the verbage they use. As for the public domain, well, that is another issue. You are encouraged to stamp your source with the identical text that the GPL uses to mitigate responsibility for use. Of course, if you simply placed your source into the public domain, with no identifying stamp, how would anyone know who to sue?! The power of anonymity.

I hope the policy will meet with approval by most of those wishing to contribute code. The policy is always open to review, but unless something substantial is added to the debate, it is not likely to change. You can express your opinion about the policies on the gjt-policy mailing list, if you so desire.

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All contents are licensed under the General Public License.