[RCD] Upgrading the Roundcube License

Georg C. F. Greve greve at kolabsys.com
Sun Dec 4 15:10:52 CET 2011

Hi Till,

On Saturday 03 December 2011 21.06:00 till wrote:
> I think this is incorrect and therefor I need some clarification: how is
> this possible with either license?

Because of the exception.

Check out 


for some background and examples.

> You should reach out to the FSF, [...]

That is what Thomas did.

He has raised this with FSFE's Freedom Task Force some time ago, and the 
proposed exception has been discussed with Dr. Till Jaeger of JBB Berlin, who 
was co-author of the first publication on the GPL in Germany, and the first to 
enforce it in court worldwide. 

Dr. Jaeger has also been intimately involved in the drafting of GPLv3 and is 
still the legal representative of FSFE, gpl-violations.org and some others.

> TL;DR: PHP files in themes must be GPL, CSS/Images/JavaScript must not be
> GPL (but can be of course). I'm guessing plugins are 100% GPL.

Yes, without the explicit exception that is probably the case.

But as Thomas described it to FSFE and myself, this was not the intention of 
the Roundcube community which wanted to enable proprietary modules & skins.

Hence the exception.

> I think the AGPL makes it harder for commercial entities to use RoundCube.
> These entities include plugin developers, web hosters, theme designers,
> etc..

Please note that we *are* a commercial entity, and prefer the AGPL.

But as stated, the exception gives explicit permission for proprietary modules 
and skins, but does not allow to make the Roundcube core itself proprietary.

The only difference between GPLv3+ and AGPLv3+ in this case is whether or not 
providing users with the service counts as distribution. 

AGPLv3 says yes, GPLv3 says no.

As stated, our preference is for AGPLv3, and for no proprietary exceptions.

But we understand the majority prefers GPLv3, and proprietary exceptions, so 
we're willing to accept that in order to allow the community to move forward 

Best regards,

Georg C. F. Greve
Chief Executive Officer

Kolab Systems AG
Zürich, Switzerland

e: greve at kolabsys.com
t: +41 78 904 43 33
w: http://kolabsys.com

pgp: 86574ACA Georg C. F. Greve

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