[Community] PCL license question
Chris.Barker at noaa.gov
Mon Nov 27 19:28:58 EET 2006
Just a minor addition:
As a federal agency, we're still a bit nervous about the GPL: It's still
not very clear to me (or our lawyers) how the heck the GPL fits into
work developed by the federal government.(1)
Given that, I'm happier using licenses that I'm sure about.
Sean Gillies wrote:
> I'm not interested in giving away my work so that vendors can enhance
> it and lock up the enhancements.
Wouldn't the LGPL satisfy that? The enhancements would have to be
released, just not derivative works.
> I'm skeptical that programmers would flock to PCL if the license were
Maybe not flock -- but it is a big issue for a lot of folks doing any
kind of proprietary work.
(1) The trick here is that everything that is produced by federal
employees is in the public domain. Public domain is VERY different than
GPL. I (or our lawyers) have yet to see a good argument for how to
reconcile that. There is a FAQ at gnu.org that has the following:
* Can the US Government release a program under the GNU GPL?:
If the program is written by US federal government employees in the
course of their employment, it is in the public domain, which means it
is not copyrighted. Since the GNU GPL is based on copyright, such a
program cannot be released under the GNU GPL. (It can still be free
software, however; a public domain program is free.)
However, when a US federal government agency uses contractors to
develop software, that is a different situation. The contract can
require the contractor to release it under the GNU GPL. (GNU Ada was
developed in this way.) Or the contract can assign the copyright to the
government agency, which can then release the software under the GNU GPL.
* Can the US Government release improvements to a GPL-covered program?
Yes. If the improvements are written by US government employees in
the course of their employment, then the improvements are in the public
domain. However, the improved version, as a whole, is still covered by
the GNU GPL. There is no problem in this situation.
If the US government uses contractors to do the job, then the
improvements themselves can be GPL-covered.
So I can use PCL in house, I can contribute code to it, but apparently I
can't use it in a program we're going to release. There are probably
ways to make it work, but you can see why it's easier for me to use LGPL
or BSD style licenses.
Christopher Barker, Ph.D.
Emergency Response Division
NOAA/NOS/OR&R (206) 526-6959 voice
7600 Sand Point Way NE (206) 526-6329 fax
Seattle, WA 98115 (206) 526-6317 main reception
Chris.Barker at noaa.gov
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