[Pipet Devel] licensing

J.W. Bizzaro bizzaro at bc.edu
Fri Feb 26 16:17:53 EST 1999


I'm sure you know that Loci/TULIP is supposed to be licensed under the GNU
General Public License (GPL).  But there is also the LGPL or Library GPL.

What is the major difference between these two?  Why does the LGPL exist?  It
turns out that the wording of the GPL prevents programs licensed as such from
being incorporated into non-free or proprietary programs (GPL says that any
project that extends the work covered by GPL must also be GPL).  And this would
cover links to any library.  So, legally, one cannot connect a proprietary
program to a GPL program.  If you guys have been following the debate over KDE
and GNOME, this is at the heart of the issue:  KDE is GPL, but Qt (the library)
is owned by Troll, which is "illegal".

So, what about Loci?  If we use GPL, can just anyone link their apps into it, as
we intended?  No.  But this is where the LGPL comes in.  Knowing how restrictive
it would be licensing libraries under GPL, GNU/FSF made the LGPL.  This simply
removes the clause in GPL that all programs that link to the library/program be
free too.  All other aspects of the GPL remain.

GTK and GNOME, by the way, are LGPL.  But using LGPL doesn't mean your program
is a library.  GNU/FSF is actually going to change the name of LGPL to "Lesser

Therefore, I think we should license Loci under LGPL.  This is an important
issue to settle now, even though Loci is vaporware, because the source code will
be available as soon as it is written.  For example, Thomas's sequence editor is
somewhat non-vapor.

The good news is, Harry, tacg won't have to be GPL to be "a part of" Loci.  We
wrote before about tacg's license, how it restricts commercial use/distribution.

J.W. Bizzaro                  Phone: 617-552-3905
Boston College                mailto:bizzaro at bc.edu
Department of Chemistry       http://www.uml.edu/Dept/Chem/Bizzaro/

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