ed phillips on Sat, 28 Feb 2004 14:01:08 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> floss enforcement/compliance


You hinted that you are familiar with MySQL?

I'm curious. They seem in their licensing literature(
http://www.mysql.com/products/opensource-license.html )
to be trying to scare non-Linux users, companies, and government
organizations into purchasing commercial licenses.

"As long as you never distribute the MySQL software (internally or
externally) you are free to use it for powering your application,
irrespective of whether your application is under GPL license or not."

As far as I have pondered this, this is incorrect or partial. You are
free to use a GPL application or redistribute it as long as the
license is intact. 

You are in no way obligated to pay a per seat fee 
as is done in the commercial database world. Not even if you write an
application that uses MySQL and that is deployed on one thousand
Extremadura Government computers. Nor are you obligated to release the
trivial web app that uses MySQL as a database on those one thousand
machines. You just saved 4 million dollars. 

Internal, within a company or within an entity, duplication of an
application that uses GPL software carries with it no obligation to
release that source code to a larger public. Of course we would all
benefit from it, but there is no obligation.

In fact the releasing of source code to a larger public carries with
it the burden of having to get the code ready for public perusal and
consumption and most users of free software do not or cannot dedicate the
significant time that a full GPL release requires.

MySQL seems to be saying to its users, either you have the "resources"
to use the jargon of the trade, to release your application as GPL or
you buy a commercial license of x hundred dollars per database.

That seems to be both incorrect and not in the spirit of free

True non-compliance would be the releasing of a commercial application
that used GPL software and that attempted to restrict what others
could do with the software, and that attempted to restrict the users'
further modification of the software. 

Most casual and corporate users of MySQL do not fall into that
category, and I would bet that very few do.

There seems to be no obligation to pay any "per working binary" fee for
a GPL application.

Of course nothing stops MySQL's marketing department from trying to
get the GPL wary to purchase commercial licenses. 


On Thu, Feb 26, 2004 at 03:13:33PM +0100, Novica Nakov wrote:
> > I understand from the FSF in the US that they deal with enforcement and
> > compliance of the GPL. But do they (and I presume with the support of
> > Prof Moglen) only do it within the US. That is within their jurisdiction?
> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/why-assign.html says:
> Under US copyright law..... only the copyright holder or someone having 
> assignment of the copyright can enforce the license.

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