Re: Beagle license change proposal from MIT/X11 to GPLv3

Debajyoti Bera wrote:
Recently we came to know that some distributions have difficulty with the current Beagle license. Specifically, Debian does not recognise Creative-Common Attribution 2.0 (CC-by-2.0) as a valid free software license [1]. However Beagle requires Semweb which is dual licensed under CC-by-2.0 and GPLv2-and-later. We used to include Semweb by accepting the CC-by-2.0 license. GPLv2 is incompatible with the Apache license (required by Lucene.Net).

I can't quite understand why distributions have a problem taking the beagle code under MIT/X11, and combining it with the Semweb stuff under GPLv3 (as allowed if Semweb is, as you say, licensed as GPLv2-and-later). MIT/X11 is compatible (in this direction) with GPLv3, unless I'm very out of date with my software licensing knowledge, so they have a perfect right to do this, don't they? The resulting packages would be under GPLv3, but the source code in beagle's SVN would still be under MIT/X11.

I think, therefore, there is no need for Beagle to change its license. However, perhaps your intent to change the license to GPLv3 to make it more obvious to distributions that they are entitled to create packages under the GPLv3.

The potential problem I see, if Beagle changes to GPLv3, is that you could conceivably drop the requirement for Semweb in future, but find another piece of software which you want to link with which is licensed under a license incompatible with GPLv3. If you've accepted contributions to the beagle code under the GPLv3, you'd have to get agreement from all contributors for a license change - if you've only accepted contributions under MIT/X11, you're very likely to be able to stick with that to link with code under any free software license.

	Please let me know if there are any alternate suggestions or any comments.

As an outside observer, I'd suggest that you continue to license the Beagle code (excluding SemWeb) under MIT/X11; and document the above reasoning as to why this means distributions can create packages of Beagle+SemWeb under GPLv3.

Is there a debian bug / mailing list thread discussing this issue? A quick search on didn't show anything up, but perhaps it's hiding somehow! :)


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