Re: Dutch Tax software violates the LGPL (Glib/GTK+)
- From: Brian Cameron <Brian Cameron Sun COM>
- To: Stefan de Konink <stefan konink de>
- Cc: legal-list gnome org
- Subject: Re: Dutch Tax software violates the LGPL (Glib/GTK+)
- Date: Tue, 05 Jan 2010 19:18:59 -0600
For several years the Dutch tax office (Belastingdienst) is using their
own closed source software in combination with several LGPL/BSD like
components compiled into a static binary. To 'comply' with the BSD-style
licenses and the advertisement they include the name and partial license
in their in program help system, likewise for the LGPL license.
You do not provide many specific details about how the Dutch tax office
application makes use of LGPL/BSD licensed code. You mention below that
it uses Glib and GTK+. Is this a complete list of LGPL/BSD licensed
code used by the program?
Note that the LGPL license is designed such that modules like Glib
and GTK+ can be used by non-free applications. So, it is acceptable
to use them in non-free programs. Many third-parties (such as Adobe
Reader, RealPlayer, etc.) provide non-free programs which link against
libraries like Glib and GTK+, and there are no licensing issues with
However, if they make changes to the actual LGPL code (such as changes
to Glib or GTK+), then they must make those changes available to the
public. Though below you seem to say that they do not change these
libraries, so I am guessing this is not an issue.
However, without more detail about the specifics of the situation you
are talking about, it is hard to provide any more concrete answer.
It is asked for several years to open up the software, which is totally
ignored. Even public information act questions are moved aside.
I would like to know if:
1) it is acceptable if a software as widely used as tax software can use
statically Glib/GTK+ libraries for 'compatibility' issues. It is
mentioned that the library is not 'changed'.
Yes, this sounds acceptable.
2) this issue is been brought up before by the Dutch tax office and if
they acquired a special license exception.
I would not think that any special license exception would be required.
If the above is found not acceptable I wonder if anyone with a
substantial copyright claim could help me formulated a compliance
request. To be send to 'De Belastingdienst' and with a CC to the Dutch
Open Source office, part of another ministry.
Although I do not think there is a problem here, it might also be
worthwhile to check with the Free Software Foundation. They have
a dedicated legal staff for looking into these sorts of issues, and
could likely provide a more official legal response.
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