GPL Compatibility

I’ve just come across this nice piece by David Wheeler on open source licensing and what it means to be GPL-compatible. Anybody who needs to deal with this kind of stuff (myself certainly included) should take a good look at this article. Unfortunately, licensing is only just one piece of the whole puzzle: there is also copyright assignment side of things that one must deal with when managing or contributing to a multi-licensed open source project, adding more confusion to the already complex, legal aspect of open source.

One common scenario one may encounter:

Bob the contributor: hey, thanks for your work. I’ve made some neat change to your software. Here is my patch. It’s GPL, so feel free to commit it to your source.

John the maintainer: Thanks. But I can’t accept your patch without first having you sign this copyright assignment, which you must fax to this number, wait for a few weeks to have our laywer go over it, and …

Bob: Why!? I thought your software was GPL’ed. Why do I need to go though all that trouble just for one patch!? Just take it.

John: Yes, but…(John’s software is dual-licensed with GPL and a commercial license for his own company.)

Things get more complicated when Bob’s patch was derived from another GPL’ed software that someone else wrote… Go figure.

Recent activities

So, I have several things going on at the moment:

  • I have just registered for my final exam for the class I’ve been taking since December. This class has certainly been an eye-opener, especially for someone like myself who’d been coding in high-level languages with only a vague understanding of low level architectural stuff.
  • I’ve started looking at lp_solve for possible integration into Calc Solver, and solicited for some interests. This Solver task, admittedly, has become much, much, more than what one person can handle. So, strategic change is necessary to keep things moving. I’ve also updated the wiki page to add more content.
  • Created a new wiki page for Statistical Data Analysis Tool project, to hopefully mobilize the near-death-experienced-yet-still-important project for Calc. There is no content on this page yet as it is still pretty much a skeleton. I wonder if this project will ever gain enough momentum to get it going…