[Mimedefang] GPLv3

David F. Skoll dfs at roaringpenguin.com
Sat Jun 30 14:09:35 EDT 2007

Jeff Rife wrote:

> The biggest thing to figure out (and I'm afraid only a laywer could 
> follow the GPL3 enough to know the answer) is if using GPL3 on 
> MIMEDefang would essentially require you to give away CanIt with no 
> limitations on its use.

As the copyright holder on MIMEDefang, we can distribute it under whatever
terms we like.  Roaring Penguin is the only organization *not* bound
by the GPL when we distribute MIMEDefang, so I don't think that's
an issue.


> Honestly, if you don't have any software patents and don't forsee
> anyone with patents using a modified version of MIMEDefang as their
> own product and including patented code, then staying at GPL2 won't
> harm your business at all.  Moving to GPL3 will only protect against
> the second issue, and *only* for a patent-predator company...i.e.,
> one that essentially distributes patent-encumbered code with intent
> trap at the most opportune moment.

Right.  Roaring Penguin currently does not have any software patents,
and although I'm philosophically opposed to them, I also have to be
realistic.  So we are looking at some of our inventions to see if any
are patentable.  That doesn't mean we have any intention of going
after people for patent infringement; it's just that (sadly) owning
patents is part of the responsibility you have to improve the value
of your company.

(Nothing we're looking at patenting is part of the GPL'd MIMEDefang in
any event.)

With respect to http://www.thejemreport.com/mambo/content/view/317/
posted by John Nemeth: I believe that blogger is wrong.  He wrote:

"Though the language is exceedingly difficult to understand (more on
that later), the license seems to require all people who modify GPLv3
software to grant all users of that software a "non-exclusive,
worldwide, royalty-free patent license" for all of the patents you
might have. So if you create some GPLv3-licensed software to use in,
say, a game console, you may have to give all users of that game
console a copy of the source code (no surprise there -- the GPLv2
requires that, too) and a license to all patents on game console
components and technologies that you invented..."

GPLv3 says you only need to grant a license to patents that would
otherwise be infringed by the software you distribute, not a license
for "all the patents you might have".  Furthermore, if you *create*
software and distribute it under GPL3, you can also distribute it
under whatever other license you like.  So the patent clause would
only really apply to third-parties who re-distribute your software.
As I wrote, the GPL for MIMEDefang does not apply to Roaring Penguin.
It only applies to people who take MIMEDefang and redistribute it.

Anyway... I'm still undecided.  It's going to take a lot more reading for
me to make up my mind.



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