[RCD] Licensing discussion

Thomas Bruederli roundcube at gmail.com
Fri Jan 22 15:50:08 CET 2010


Hello folks,

I recently had a few discussions about the license under which Roundcube is
published. Currently this is GPLv2 and I think it's time to change it.

Therefore I'd like to share some thoughts with you and invite you to share
your opinions about this topic. For me there are three possible directions
to go:

1) Upgrade to GPLv3
Since I'm not very familiar with all the details I currently don't know
what kind of changes this would involve but I assume it to be an easy and
obvious step.

2) Switch to AGPLv3
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affero_General_Public_License)
This license was made for software which is accessed over a network and
which isn't necessarily distributed in the classic way. This would require
adopters to share their changes to the core program and linked stuff like
plugins also if they only provide Roundcube as a service. Of course this
looks very restrictive since up until now one only had to publish his/her
code under GPL if Roundcube was distributed within a package (which itself
needs to be GPL, too).

3) Switch to LGPL
I had several requests from companies who'd like to distribute Roundcube
with their commercial packages. This could be quite hard because the GPL
requires all "linked" parts (for my understanding this includes plugins and
skins) to be GPL too. As an advantage of publishing Roundcube under LGPL I
see more potential contributors even if they don't have to share their own
stuff with the community. Of course we have to check whether all the libs
Roundcube requires are also available under LGPL.

For options 1) and 2) there's one addition: I think that we should exclude
the skins from the GPL restrictions because the easy customization is what
makes Roundcube nice and custom skins often include some copyrighted
artwork and are pretty individual.

What do you think about this? Please feel free to comment the above lines.

Best regards,
Thomas
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