List:Community« Previous MessageNext Message »
From:Stéphane Croisier Date:February 26 2004 3:57pm
Subject:Re: License Name?
View as plain text  
Hello everybody,

Just to say that I agree with most of the points mentionned by Mike in his 
previous emails (as of 20.02.2004).
But to come back to a few specific points (and I am not a lawyer myself so 
please correct me if I am wrong ;-) ):

At 16:42 23/02/2004, Zak Greant wrote:
>On Feb 22, 2004, at 01:53, Mike Hillyer wrote:
>>Now here's another question: MySQL uses the GPL, but it seems like this
>>leaves a lot of room for interpretation. In addition, modifications are
>>already being made to the license to allow for linking in PHP. Is it perhaps
>>time to implement the changes as "The MySQL License"?
>I think that this would increase the level of confusion about the licensing.
>The license is the GPL, with optional exceptions. This makes it clear that 
>you can use it just as if it were stock GPL. If you need to do things that 
>go outside of the GPL, then you can look at the exceptions or purchase a 
>license for proprietary use.
>Also, I like the GPL - I think it is still the best representation of the 
>community side of our business ideals.

First of all I just want to say that I fully agree with the quid pro quo 
philosophy that MySQL tries to currently put in place and promote. I myself 
manage a software company based on this principle ( Jahia: 
based on a collaborative source license: ). 
However, in opposite to Zack position, I am clearly not convinced that the 
GPL license is the best license to implement such a strategy.

1) You play on the confusion created by the terms "derivative works" (what 
is really a derivative work at the end?) and "distribution" ("If I install 
internally a fail-over server with my own proprietary program with both 
servers runnning MySQL, is it considered as an "internal distribution" and 
then subject to the viral effect of the GPL?) in order to be able to resell 
some commercial licenses. I am also not sure that making exceptions is the 
best way to reach your goal. Why PHP license is an exception and not Apache 
or Python or Zope... licenses 
GPL is not compliant with a lot of other OSI licenses so do you plan to 
make exceptions for all these licenses? (cf: "If your software is licensed 
under either the GPL-compatible Free Software License as defined by the 
Free Software Foundation or approved by OSI, then use our GPL licensed 
version" available on: ).

2) Free Software means free like in free speech but also like in free beer. 
You then can then not bill the final end-user. So you are trying to bill 
the intermediaries (=ISVs). This is ok for embedded libraries. But is a 
database today really considered as an embedded library? Clearly no. The 
choice of the database layer is often already made by the end-customers 
according to various criterias (DBAs training, internal dev skills,...) and 
the ISV has to adjust his program to it. Not the opposite. Most of the 
programs developed today are then database independant. As an ISV myself, I 
am ready to make some efforts to be MySQL compliant (aka test my software 
with MySQL, adjust scripts if necessary,...) in order to easy the use of 
MySQL for our end-customers if (and only if) they want to use your database 
layer but I will never pay myself for a database architecture choice that 
is not dependant of me.

3) GPL was not created to enforce a strong quid pro quo paradigm. If you 
want to enforce such a philosophy you will have, from one manner or the 
other, to restrain the right of use of the end-user. The possible 
limitation of the GPL is on (re)distribution not on the use of the program 
itself that is not restricted. This is not what I call a quid pro quo 
principle that finally aims to to "value" and "bill" (by accepting payment 
in cash or in kind) the end-user pro-rata his use of the technology. 
Whatever you try to do, you then have a serious concern in your commercial 
licensing model by keeping this free right to use MySQL.

4) You want to promote collaboration and community work but if you want to 
be able to continue to dual license MySQL, you (MySQL AB) have to own 100% 
of the IP or exploitation rights. Otherwise speaking you can not accept 
third party contributions under a GPL agreement only. The contributor will 
also have to provide to you, in addition to the GPL, an unlimited right to 
sublicense his modifications. Else you may not be able to repackage his 
contributions in your commercial distributions (or am I wrong?). Of course 
he can release a patch/module available on another web site but the main 
goal of contributions in general is to integrate them in the core kernel 
not to fork the project. Furthermore how the contributor is compensated for 
his work. If he develop some extensions, freely provide them to you, has he 
still have to pay to you a license fee if he has developed a proprietary 
program running on top of MySQL? As I understand it, yes. Otherwise 
speaking he is freely enhancing your product but still has to pay a license 
fee... Not quite a "collaborative" approach... and this has nothing to do 
with the fact that his own program is closed sourced or not... (I hope you 
give them at least a free commercial license in such a case ;-) )

All these points to say that we faced exactly the same challenge a few 
years ago while chosing our company business model based on an open code 
base (hopefully we had no existing GPL code base and 100% of the IP 
rights). We finally came to the conclusion that, for our type of software 
(and I precise it), a "classical" dual licensing model based on GPL was not 
the right one. We wanted a viral effect on contribution not on code. We 
wanted to be able to tax technology free riders (what we call the unvalue 
added tax mechanism) and actively promote collaboration. That is why we 
finally came to the conclusion that we had to create a new community source 
license (that we defined from a generic manner on ).

>>When MySQL uses the GPL as "The GPL" it makes me wonder whose interpretation
>>of the GPL is final in licensing issues: is it MySQL AB's interpretation or
>>the FSF's that applies? Perhaps a naming of "The MySQL Open License" and
>>"The MySQl Commercial License" would make it clear that the license is
>>specific to MySQL and MySQL AB is the final decider.
>Neither party is the final interpreter of the GPL. The GPL is based on 
>copyright law and neither MySQL AB or the Free Software Foundation has the 
>ability to interpret or pass laws - instead, this is generally the 
>responsibility of a court.

Exactly what Mike said... You play with the terms of the GPL as there is 
nearly no legal case studies we can rely on to know exactly what can be 
considered as a derivative work or not...

However the idea of a MySQL Open License is not so bad. Keeping the base 
foundation server under GPL but releasing some "professional" or 
"enterprise" editions or complementary "add-ons" or "modules" under a more 
restrictive source license may be a good business model. The risk is 
obviously that the community may decide to recreate your extensions under a 
GPL license and then to loose a part of your customers for direct new 
incoming competitors.... but is it really a big risk giving the size that 
MySQL AB reached today?

My 2cts from an active promotor of MySQL vs other proprietary database 
vendors ;-)

Stéphane Croisier
- -- --- -----=[ scroisier at jahia dot com ]=---- --- -- -
CEO - Jahia Solutions, 45 rue de la gare, 1260 Nyon (Switzerland)
Jahia : The Open Java CMS and Corporate Portal Solution Community and product web site Commercial services company

License Name?Mike Hillyer22 Feb
  • RE: License Name?Steph22 Feb
    • RE: License Name?Mike Hillyer22 Feb
      • RE: License Name?Steph22 Feb
  • Re: License Name?Zak Greant23 Feb
    • Re: License Name?Mike Hillyer23 Feb
    • Re: License Name?Stéphane Croisier26 Feb
      • Re: License Name?Mahesh T. Pai26 Feb
        • Re: License Name?Stéphane Croisier26 Feb
          • Re: License Name?Mahesh T. Pai26 Feb
          • Re: License Name?Mahesh T. Pai26 Feb
          • Re: License Name?Mahesh T. Pai26 Feb