Re: [linux-audio-user] Just look at what you have done!

From: Rob <lau@email-addr-hidden>
Date: Fri Aug 25 2006 - 01:17:00 EEST

On Thu August 24 2006 15:53, Lee Revell wrote:
> Yes, it is open source (the source is avaliable - QED). It's
> not GPL or free software.

1. Linuxsampler is not "open source" any more than Microsoft's
"shared source" initiative releases "open source" software. The
term "open source" is a trademark of the Open Source Initiative,
and as regards software licenses, it may only be used to refer
to licenses conforming to the Open Source Definition created by
OSI. Linuxsampler doesn't conform, because of section 6 in the

"The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the
program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not
restrict the program from being used in a business, or from
being used for genetic research."

So if they are calling themselves open source (note: I don't
think they are) then they would be violating the trademark of
Eric Raymond and his buddies. On the other hand, I have no idea
whether the OSI has gone after violators of its trademark the
way the FSF has gone after GPL violations on software to which
it holds the copyright. Trademarks can be diluted, as you just
did ever-so-slightly with your assertion above.

2. The GNU GPL itself, meaning the actual text of the license, is
not in the public domain. While Linuxsampler is probably not
itself violating the GPL (assuming they either wrote all their
own code or got all contributors to sign off on the license
change.... if it's your code, even RMS will say you can license
it however you want), they are, to all appearances, violating
the FSF's copyright on the text of the GPL itself.

I just grabbed a copy of their source and the COPYING file is an
untouched copy of the GPL, which is fine, but then in their
README they just have an additional sentence saying it may not
be used commercially. If the README can't be considered part of
the license, then Linuxsampler is being distributed under the
GPL no matter what their intent. (See also: SCO.)

On the other hand, if the README *can* be considered part of the
GPL, it sure looks like they're violating the FSF's terms of use
on the GPL (as opposed to the terms of the GPL):

"You can use the GPL terms (possibly modified) in another license
provided that you call your license by another name and do not
include the GPL preamble, and provided you modify the
instructions-for-use at the end enough to make it clearly
different in wording and not mention GNU (though the actual
procedure you describe may be similar)."

Note that the above isn't any sort of official license to the
GPL: officially, the only way to use the GPL as your program's
license is verbatim without any additional restrictions, though
you can make exceptions that give the licensees additional
freedoms. I read the above FAQ entry as a "we won't sue you
if....." sort of thing.

I know this has been discussed on the list previously, but I
searched the archive for mentions of these two specific issues
and there were none. I have an actual lawyer for when my
understanding of licenses like this will impact my business. I
don't care about Linuxsampler enough to spend the money and ask
him about this, especially when someone's bound to bump into
Larry Lessig or someone someday and ask him for free, but I feel
pretty confident about what I've said.

Confident enough that if I were working on a Linux-based hardware
DAW to sell commercially, I would probably take my chances and
just use Linuxsampler. I'd be more afraid of the mysterious
gag-order-inducing entity that started all of this than of the
Linuxsampler guys. If it was, as some people have supposed, a
patent infringement situation, Linuxsampler can't be
redistributed under the GPL by anyone knowing about the patent
in the first place, regardless of any attempts to add additional

Received on Fri Aug 25 04:15:04 2006

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