Re: GNOME 2.0 Licensing Issues

People, we've got to be sure to deal with licensing issues more carefully in the GNOME project! 


I just went up to and took a look at bonobo-config (a random choice, I swear):

+ There is no COPYING file.
+ I saw no licensing information in the two or three source files I examined.

Conclusion: bonobo-config is a proprietary library that cannot be shipped by anyone (Sun, Red Hat, HP, etc. etc.) without obtaining 
permission from the copyright holder. Ouch!

(Same problems for libbonoboui, by the way. There may be others, but I didn't do an exhaustive search.)

Of course, I'm sure this library is *intended* to be covered by LGPL, but when nothing is stated we have to assume there is no right to 
copy and distribute.

I'm not comfortable that there has been a rigorous licensing review of the GNOME project. I think it's time for the 2.0 release team to 
step in and lay down the law, so to speak -- insist on a COPYING file; insist on licensing information in the comments at the top of 
each source file; insist on clear summaries of any patent issues. If you own a GNOME module, now is the time for you to act.

In particular, any code that exposes a public API needs to come with a clear statement that it is licensed pursuant to LGPL (or similar 
license that does not present licensing obstacles for application developers). GPL is OK for applications, of course.


Gary Little
Sun Microsystems

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