[fpc-devel] LGPL vs BSD

Marco van de Voort marcov at stack.nl
Fri Aug 4 13:11:52 CEST 2006

> On Fri, 2006-08-04 at 11:09 +0200, Graeme Geldenhuys wrote:

> > give all that work away which doesn't make financial sense. But if it
> > was BSD based, they could decide what they wanted to release back to
> > the community in good faith (think Mac OS X here).
> If fpc/lazarus was under BSD license, I woudn't help developing it.
> This difference is exactly what the gpl makes the gpl. If I have
> developed some code, and give it away for free and some company makes
> some improvements and start earning money with it. At the same time they
> could refuse to give me their improvements, so that I'm stuck. They
> didn't help me to improve my code.. but they can go with my work and
> make their profit...

First, you have to separate libraries from the "end" binaries.

For the libraries, the situation is pretty much the same (modified LGPL and
BSD don't differ THAT much in practice. Maybe some of the smaller passages
in the LGPL, but that also makes the license 50 times as large as the BSD
one. I also don't like that LGPL sounds like "GPL", creates lots of
confusion. For that latter reason alone if I were to resetup a project like
FPC, I'd choose MPL, and modified it to suit. Just for the name.

For the "end" binaries, you only highlight the worst case of BSD. Or better,
you step over the bad part of GPLing the compiler too easily. E.g. only God knows
how many chances we missed to get commercial help on products that link
in the FPC compiler as backend. People that would have used the compiler as
library, because the GPL would require them to open their entire
application. When they see GPL they probably don't even bother to ask. (if I
see something usable as library, part or whole and I see GPL I automatically
dismiss it, and probably you too)

Something can be done about that, at least in theory, and then you have to
go from FPC style GPL (nobody as full say about the whole source) to the
GCC/GNU model. (every contributor has to sign away his rights to a
foundation). The foundation can then enter into specific licenses with

The GNU model has the severe administrative overhead as disadvantage (want
to submit patch? Wait for papers to come, sign, send back, wait for
processing and confirmation as filed, a process that can take weeks-months),
and the advantage (the foundation can sign any deal they want) is also a
bump to take as an administrative burden, since a potential commercial user
can't do anything on their own, they always have to go through this
administrative-negotation process. Specially if the project is only in
startup or has a very small scope in the beginning this is really

Not that I think it was that bad to do GPL in our case, but maybe, if we
really had exploded, we would have deeply regretted it. Specially since our
shared copyright system makes changing really hard.

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