[RCD] Licensing discussion

Albert Lee trisk at forkgnu.org
Sat Jan 23 00:29:03 CET 2010

On Fri, 22 Jan 2010 21:22:40 +0000, Chris January <chris at atomice.net>
> On Fri, 22 Jan 2010 15:50:08 +0100, Thomas Bruederli
> wrote:
>> Hello folks,
>> I recently had a few discussions about the license under which
> 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:
> To change the licence you will need the agreement of all contributors
> (since the current Roundcube code is a derivative work of all their
> contributions).
>> 1) Upgrade to GPLv3
> I would be happy with version 3 of the GPL.
>> 2) Switch to AGPLv3
> I think this licence may deter some people from using Roundcube because
> the requirement to make source code available to users and therefore may
> reduce contributions and bug reports.
>> 3) Switch to LGPL
> I think the LGPL is inappropriate. PHP (which Roundcube is written in)
> usually distributed in source form. It makes little sense to have LGPL
> code.
> Regards,
> Chris

The choices Thomas presented seem like solutions in need of a problem, as
they vary wildly in being more (Affero) or less (LGPL) restrictive than the
current licence. A licence change should address an actual problem or move
towards a larger goal in how RoundCube can be used. If the project members
feel that there are limitations in GPL 2.0 that cause problems for
RoundCube, these should be discussed to find a licence that meets the
criteria. If (hypothetically) the problems are addressed by GPL 3.0, moving
to that version of the GPL (or "GPL x.x or any later version") could be

Regardless of whether a licence change occurs in the near future, it would
be useful to start compiling contact information for the contributers who
hold copyright on the RoundCube codebase to make it easier to include them
in licencing decisions. They may also choose to grant their rights to a
specific person or entity to make changes possible without consulting them
each time (this is a system used by many large projects).


Chris, the LGPL is still a copyleft licence, but would allow use of
RoundCube in combination with non-free components. Source is always be
required to be distributed for the LGPL components, so there is nothing
strange from a technical perspective.

Even if RoundCube were licenced under a permissive licence like the MIT
licence, so its source could be used for something entirely under a
non-free licence, this is still an effective decision if that is what you
wanted to allow since the major "freedoms" that copyleft licences enforce
are the freedoms to modify and redistribute the source, which would be
missing from a non-free licence even if you had access to the source (which
as you observed, you almost always do with PHP projects - although Zend
bytecode could be distributed as well).
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