Re: [Evolution] Should we kill the legal thread?

On 12 Apr 2001 07:56:28 -0400, Ettore Perazzoli wrote:
On 12 Apr 2001 10:26:35 +0930, Not Zed wrote:
Trust me, we are not doing this merely to make life tough for you, there
is a real licensing issue involved, and although we may be idealistic,
we are committed to producing a completely FREE mail client.  

  BTW, just FYI: although it was not visible on this mailing list, I
already had this discussion with the OpenLDAP guys in private mail a
while ago, asking them to change the license to be GPL-compatible.  

  The problem is that they claim their license already is
GPL-compatible, so they don't want to change it.


This is a fairly important issue, as evidenced by the significant number
of posts on the subject.  

I would like to first point out that I and others are not unappreciative
of the work done by the Evolution team.  Evolution is a wonderfully
promising product, and when it reaches release time, will be a great
addition to any workstation.  I already use it almost exclusively for my

I have read both the GPL and the OpenLDAP carefully.  They are both
written in plain English (I don't know other languages, so cannot
comment there...), and they read fairly easily (especially the OpenLDAP
license).  I've looked at the (very) brief objection the FSF has about
the OpenLDAP license, and it is somewhat ambiguous.  The opinion I've
developed about this whole hullaballoo are not based on the flames and
rhetoric of other commenters on this list, but rather are based and what
I've read in the licenses themselves.

Points 1 thru 3 of the OpenLDAP restrictions are quite GPL-ish.  Points
4 and 5 have to do with promotion and naming, and are quite fair.  4
says you may not use the name "OpenLDAP" to endorse/promote a DERIVATIVE
product without written permission from the OpenLDAP foundation.  Point
5 says that you may not use the name "OpenLDAP" as part of your
DERIVATIVE product's name, without written permission.

Now, I cannot find "advertise" or "promote" or "endorse" in the text of
the GPL anywhere, and only one "promoting" in a description of the FSF's
goals.  The GPL makes no restrictions in either direction with regard to
advertising or name useage.  Therefore, under the GPL, one must assume
that to use the name of an original work to endorse your Program in an
advertisement, or to use the name of an original work as part of the
name of your Program, ethically requires the consent of that original
work's author (given the lack of treatment of this subject by the GPL).
These last points should fall under copyright/trademark law, and should
(by themselves) not have a bearing on the source or binary distribution
of the original work or derivative works.

It is further interesting to note that those two clauses apply to
*derivative* works.  Since Evolution uses an LDAP API defined in an RFC
(, which is exported by several 
different LDAP libraries, Evolution cannot rightly be considered a "derivative" work.  A Program which uses 
the exported API of a library cannot be considered a derivative work of that library.  Since Evolution is not 
a derivative work of OpenLDAP, and Evolution is not a modification of OpenLDAP, and Evolution is not 
redistributing OpenLDAP, the OpenLDAP license does not apply to Evolution, neither technically nor 

Furthermore, the OpenLDAP license does not restrict the binary
distribution of programs linked to it (unlike the GPL).  There is no fee
to pay, or any other restriction, on distributing programs which are
linked to OpenLDAP and use OpenLDAP's exported RFC-compliant API.

It is evident from the FSF's rhetoric regarding alternative licenses
that it expects the term "freedom" to apply not just to source code, but
also to the trademarked names used to refer to said source code.This is
a mistaken philosophy, and it is not supported by the GPL.

This is rather basic stuff, legally.  It is unfortunately grossly
neglected in most Computer Science programs, but should be adequately
covered in most introductory Business Law classes.  It would, however,
be interesting to see a brief prepared by the Ximian lawyer about the
legality of distributing a binary version of Evolution which was linked
to OpenLDAP, or to any other LDAP implementation, based on the
respective licenses.  I'm confident your lawyer would feel the same as I

I would like to reiterate that I'm not trying to criticize the Evolution
team--I simply believe you are mistaken in you interpretation of the
licenses involved, and I know others feel the same because of several
private emails I've received to that effect.  Regardless of my beliefs,
I think we would all benefit from an opinion by your lawyer.  Evolution
is a great product, and it does not deserve to be restricted by yours,
mine, or RMS's, or anyone else's misinterpretation of a given license.

Matthew Vanecek
perl -e 'print $i=pack(c5,(41*2),sqrt(7056),(unpack(c,H)-2),oct(115),10);'
For 93 million miles, there is nothing between the sun and my shadow except me.
I'm always getting in the way of something...

[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Thread Index] [Date Index] [Author Index]