[Mimedefang] GPLv3

Richard Laager rlaager at wiktel.com
Sat Jun 30 17:03:59 EDT 2007

On Sat, 2007-06-30 at 14:09 -0400, David F. Skoll wrote:
> 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.

First off, I'm not a lawyer. ;) This is not legal advice, only a summary
of my understanding of all this.

If you (Roaring Penguin) have accepted patches, you are not the sole
copyright holder, unless you received a copyright assignment for every
patch that's substantial enough to receive copyright protection (which
is an issue I'm not qualified to talk about).

If MIMEDefang is GPLv2-only right now, then you can't change that
without getting consent from every other copyright holders or replacing
that code.

Also, you'd already have to be following the GPL for your distribution,
including the commercial stuff as part of Can-It. Whether or not Can-It
and MIMEDefang interface in such a way as to make Can-It a derivative
work which must be released under the GPL, I'm also not qualified to

Also, your note about service providers and distributing conflicts with
the common interpretation of the GPL (Google for "GPL web services", for
example), shared by the FSF [0]. If you actually want to make and
enforce that as a licensing condition, you probably want something like
the AGPLv3 (when it's released, which should be soon, now that the GPLv3
is out) or an earlier version of the Affero GPL, though I don't know (as
I haven't read it) if that's too specific for web stuff to be of use for
a mail filtering application.

The FSF has changed the word "distribute" to "convey" in the GPLv3 so
they can define its meaning independent of local copyright law, which
(in many jurisdictions) provides a specific meaning for "distribute".


[0] http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#UnreleasedMods
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