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Jon

Need License Help

6 posts in this topic

#1 ·  Posted (edited)

Ok, I don't even pretend to understand the GPL totally, but I think it might not fit what I want. I'll say what I want and see if anyone can make any sense of it or suggest a more suitable license.

1. Compiled AutoIt scripts to be freely distributable (and chargable)

2. Ability to use AutoItX3.dll in a chargeable way without falling under the GPL (ie. a company writes VB scripts that use the dll - I want them to be able to charge for that without being GPLed)

3. Autoit3.exe can be distributed with scripts as long as the installer/zip file is supplied.

I ask because I've had a few emails from companies saying that they can't use AutoIt because of the GPL restrictions. The only time I want people to get hit with the license bat is if they change the AU3 source code and then try to make money off it or sneak it into their own source code and not making it available.

The opensource thing is so that we can all develop together and it also helps people who don''t allow third party software to use AutoIt as they can check the code themselves for trojans. But all that work is undone by the fact that they can't use it at all due to the GPL then it's not particularly good.

Help!

Edited by Jon

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Or why not just write your own license? It seems this is a rather unique situation, so I don't know if you'll find a license that can cover all the issues you're up against.

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Hmm. The BSD license looks like a complete free for all.

The LGPL (lesser GPL) might fit the bill as it specially mentions allowing the use of libraries (i.e. AutoItX) in non-free works.

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#6 ·  Posted (edited)

God I hate licenses. After much googling and GNU FAQs I found this snippet on the normal GPL:

If the program uses fork and exec to invoke plug-ins, then the plug-ins are separate programs, so the license for the main program makes no requirements for them. So you can use the GPL for a plug-in, and there are no special requirements.

If the program dynamically links plug-ins, and they make function calls to each other and share data structures, we believe they form a single program, so plug-ins must be treated as extensions to the main program. This means that linking the GPL-covered plug-in with the main program would violate the GPL. However, you can resolve that legal problem by adding an exception to your program's license which gives permission to link it with the non-free main program.

Which says to me (along with other stuff I've read) that someone can call AutoIt3.exe to run a script no problem - they can package that up and sell it as they wish as AutoIt3.exe is used in a fork/exec way and is a "seperate program". And a compiled script is just program output so that's OK too.

AutoItX is a different matter though as it does do the function calls/structure thing and means that anything using AutoItX must also be GPL - that is not so good.

I had a look at the Lesser GPL (which used to be the library GPL) and that appears to identical to the GPL except that it allows the use of the library in non-GPL works. Of course if someone makes a mod to AutoItX specially for their software then they have to release the source of the modfication. And there is also this section in the LGPL text

  For example, on rare occasions, there may be a special need to

encourage the widest possible use of a certain library,.  To achieve this, non-free programs must be

allowed to use the library.  A more frequent case is that a free

library does the same job as widely used non-free libraries.  In this

case, there is little to gain by limiting the free library to free

software only, so we use the Lesser General Public License.

So, AutoIt3 = GPL, AutoItX = LGPL seems to fit the bill.

Everyone OK with that?

I will add a "License FAQ" section because I'm getting asked about it quite a bit. I used to get emails saying "I like AutoItX/AutoIt a lot but can't use it because my company won't touch code it can't see the source for". It would be crap if that is replaced with "I still can;t touch your code because it's GPLed". :/

Edited by Jon

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