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Re: lynx-dev Re: Licensing Lynx (fwd)

From: Brett Glass
Subject: Re: lynx-dev Re: Licensing Lynx (fwd)
Date: Sat, 25 Sep 1999 19:50:13 -0600

At 06:42 PM 9/25/99 -0500, Klaus Weide wrote:

>Speaking as one contributor, I certainly have not waived or transferred
>any rights regarding my contributions to anybody, except for the rights
>granted by the GPL.

And I fully understand that, if you did, you might want some compensation
for the use of your code. Which is fine! What I'd like to find out is
how we can arrange for such a license. Otherwise, we'd need to "reinvent
the wheel," which is time-consuming and wasteful.

>Unfortunately for you, but not from my POV, what you are trying to do
>is practically impossible.  You will either have to make your derived
>code available under the GPL (if you distribute works derived from lynx
>at all), or find some other code base with different conditions to build

Lynx is currently the best available code base for the job. However, while
we'd like to be able to give away our work under the GPL, we cannot afford
to! We (like you, I'm sure!) need to put food on the table, and making
money solely from support is not feasible.

>Consider also that some of those contributors may be employees of
>one of one of your (present or future) competitors.

Possibly, but the odds are small.

>   Consider also
>that part of the lynx code is taken from other projects under the
>GPL; I know for a fact that part of it is derived from portions of
>the Linux kernel.  That is fine only as long as the derived code
>remains under the same license.  You would also have to license from
>those indirect contributors, or identify and rip out all such code.
>For all practical purposes that is quite impossible.

Well, we could also try "clean room" reverse engineering, but this
is slow, painful, and almost certainly financially infeasible.

>If the lynx code is useful to you, I hope you can find a way to
>profit from it in a way that does not depend on secrecy but on
>open code so that all lynx users can benefit.

The goal is not "secrecy," per se, but rather that we cannot give
away our work (which is what the GPL would require us to do). We
really wish we had that luxury, believe me! It would be sad indeed
if the GPL -- which is supposedly "open" -- would in fact foreclose
opportunities for programmers to make a valuable contribution and be
paid at least something for doing it. 

The "COPYING" file which comes with Lynx suggests, near the end,
that commercial licensing is possible. Surely the project keeps a list
of contributors -- if for no other reason than for a "credits" page?
I'd surely hope that fellow programmers can see the value of re-using
code rather than reimplementing it from scratch, and would be willing
to be given credit, money, or both for their work.

--Brett GLass

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