[gst-devel] GStreamer licensing policy

Sebastian Dröge slomo at circular-chaos.org
Thu Jun 12 12:03:11 CEST 2008

Am Mittwoch, den 11.06.2008, 16:21 +0100 schrieb Christian Fredrik
Kalager Schaller:
> Hi everyone,
> So due to cdparanoia getting relicensed from GPLv2 to LGPLv3 we had a
> little discussion yesterday on IRC. The reason for the relicensing was a
> request from me due to our policy of not allowing anything in
> gst-plugins-good or gst-plugins-base which depends on a GPL library.
> What I didn't even notice right away is that Monty chose to use LGPLv3
> with cdparanoia instead of LGPLv2, which is what GStreamer use.
> This has brought forth a few issues which I felt it would be prudent to
> have a public discussion about.
> If you start by looking at our licensing policy:
> http://gstreamer.freedesktop.org/documentation/licensing.html
> Our policy so far has been LGPL(v2) or freer. While our licensing policy
> do mention that MPL would be acceptable I do not think we have any code
> in base or good actually depending on the MPL, and due to Debian at
> least considering some versions of the MPL as a non-free license I guess
> we might want to remove the mention of MPL from the list.(ok, bit of a
> side-issue there).

This is not entirely correct anymore. Since a few months Debian
considers the MPL as free but there's still the problem that it is
completely incompatible with the GPL and even the Mozilla guys are
recommending to dual license code under MPL/GPL (or LGPL).

I'm also not sure if the usual GPL exception that is for example used in
totem is enough to allow it to use MPL'd plugins (Fluendo mpeg demuxer
comes to mind), without looking closer at the issue I think that the
MPL'd plugins might need a similar exception to allow this. Well, but
that's another story, IMHO we shouldn't allow MPL anywhere near
core/base/good, same as we don't allow the GPL.
Could our licensing policy be changed accordingly?

> Anyway, the LGPLv3 gives us some trouble because it is actually a little
> stricter than the (L)GPLv2 (mostly in relation to the anti-DRM stuff
> afaik) which means if we allow LGPLv3 in base and good then we are no
> longer compatible with GPL2-only applications. 'Normal' GPLv2 or higher
> apps are fine, the same are all apps under a non-viral license (LGPL,
> MIT, Commercial etc.).
> FYI: http://gplv3.fsf.org/dd3-faq
> This might not be a problem in practice as I do not know of any
> GPL2-only applications using GStreamer for cdripping atm, but there
> might be some and if one wants to be pedantic one could claim that
> shipping the new (LGPLv3) cdparanoia with any GStreamer application
> (even if they do not do cd-ripping themselves) could be considered a
> license violation.
> So we either decide that we do not accept LGPLv3 as a dependency for
> base and good (which means that unless I can get Monty to switch to
> LGPLv2 we will have no cd-ripping plugin in base and good) or we decide
> that while GStreamer stays LGPLv2 it is fine for plugins in base and
> good to depend on libraries which are LGPLv3.

IMHO we should allow LGPLv3 (or newer) same as we allow older versions
of the LGPL. Applications that are GPLv2-only will have these issues, no
matter if we allow it to be used in core/base/good or not, just think of
a GPLv2-only application that used cdparanoia before legally and now the
distro updates the package and it's not legal anymore.

Also if a GPLv2-only application uses GStreamer and the cdparanoia
plugin is installed but not used by that applications I don't see how
one could argue a license violation. The problem only happens at the
moment where the plugin is loaded into the same process. So there only
will be a problem where it would be no matter what we decide: GPLv2-only
applications using cdparanoia.

So let's allow LGPLv3 and let the few applications handle the problems
they've created themself, it's not like disallowing LGPLv3 in
core/base/good would change much for them anyway...
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