[Wxruby-users] Re: wx 2.6.1 license change? ( was: Re: wxruby)
usrlocalinfo at yahoo.com
Sun Jul 24 22:51:03 EDT 2005
DISCLAIMER: Seek the advice of an intellectual property attorney before
taking any action related to copyright and licensing. This message is
for entertainment purposes only and may contain numerous factual errors.
Kevin Smith wrote:
> Can you point to the 2.6.1 license text that causes a problem? I'm
> looking at the wxWidgets CVS repository. It seems that for at least 6
> years, the LGPL v2 has said:
The differences can be seen in the .chm manual files distributed with
wxWidgets and online at:
> My interpretation of that (and I am not a lawyer) would be that as long
> as you only distributed binary code, you could do so under your "own
> terms", which could prevent modifications and reverse-engineering.
LGPL only allows distribution of works based on an LGPL library under
"terms of your choice" only if your terms permit reverse-engineering and
modifications by end users (see LGPL Section 6).
wxWidgets is covered by LGPL but exceptions to various terms of LGPL are
granted for binaries. These exceptions to LGPL terms differ between
2.6.0 and 2.6.1.
This means vendors distributing shareware or trial versions of software
linked to LGPL libraries must do something that doesn't make sense for
their situation. Many customers won't pay if the vendors give them full
LEGAL permission to patch the trial or shareware version. Or pay for
expensive Enterprise editions if the cheaper Standard edition can be
The 2.6.0 license made it clear that binaries are not subject to LGPL
restrictions when being distributed on your own terms because of the
phrase "distribute [...] unrestricted under terms of your choice".
The 2.6.1 license removed the word "unrestricted", among other things,
so that if the binaries are distributed under non-LGPL terms, those
terms must permit reverse-engineering and modifications by end users.
One more confusion 2.6.1 license introduced is the use of the word
"user's" when the licensee ("you") was already identified as "you" in
the same sentence:
2.6.1: "you may [...] distribute under the user's own terms"
2.6.0: "you may [...] distribute [...] unrestricted under terms of your
Since the licensee was referred in the sentence as "you", the use of the
word "user's" cannot simply be assumed to refer to the same. It is not
unreasonable to believe "user's" now refers to the end-user of the
combined product, especially given that the wxWidgets is free and open
In other words, the 2.6.1 license is a big risk for closed-source
commercial products. If 2.6.2 doesn't fix the license, I wouldn't be
surprised if a bunch of closed source projects migrates away from wxWidgets.
Please ask a GPL Compliance Engineer at Free Software Foundation
(fsf.org) before dismissing my explanation. A helpful expert like David
Turner will probably respond with a detailed explanation within a week
or so. The LGPL is one of the most misunderstood licenses because
people don't bother reading it or they don't bother asking the right
people for clarifications.
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