Too much licensing

We’ve probably all had enough discussion on licensing.

Certainly we have a small number of contributors now and could change
the license to LGPL if there was desire. Better to agree now.
Personally, I don’t see a problem with GPL.

Several people asked why Open Babel is GPL. Part is historical –
there was a huge, useful library under the GPL which I forked. (Open
Eye now makes OEChem which is closed.) I thought with some work, a
community would grow. I think I was right!

Here are a few reasons I thought GPL was good for Open Babel. Let’s
consider the past:

  • Commercial vendors in chemistry haven’t been particularly
    responsive to the community. IMHO, most take, and rarely give back.
    (This may change in the near future, but certainly wasn’t true in the
    late '90s or earlier.)
    e.g. http://www.bannedbygaussian.org/
  • Few open standards existed for chemistry. Some file formats are
    published, but no open implementations of reading PDB files, MDL
    files, SMILES, etc. I don’t know of ANY open APIs from closed
    vendors. Even Microsoft publishes something!
  • A division existed between software providers (i.e., companies) and
    chemistry software users. Pay them a lot of money, get some rarely-
    updated binaries. Your platform (Linux, Solaris) may not be supported
    (vs. SGI).
  • Some “free” (as in beer) products might stop development if their
    authors graduated, got jobs, left, got bored, etc.

So for motivation:

  • While GPL programs (e.g., babel) can be used by proprietary
    programs, they would need to contribute GPL code (e.g., their format)
    to gain use. This benefits the community. Vendors have an incentive
    to improve Babel. This happens periodically.
  • No one can use the code in a proprietary product, make changes, and
    never give them to the community.
  • The community is always assured of a free, open version of Babel.
    No one can lock it up again.
  • The code can be maintained even if the original author leaves, gets
    tired, etc.
    (This is hypothetical. Now I have employment and plan to continue –
    when I started, I was just a grad student.)

Look, I’ve offered some of my personal code to other people under
different licenses. I just think that the current chemistry software
companies have failed to provide what I want. So why should I be free
labor for them?

Just my $0.02,
-Geoff

Many thanks Geoff, that was an interesting read. Personnaly I don’t have any
problem with OpenBabel being GPL, but then again, it’s a potentially endless
discussion. If OpenBabel has been happy with GPL until now, it’ll probably be
even happier with it in the future as the community grows. First, OpenBabel
is already doing well without help from the companies that you mention.
Second, it’s possible that someday you’ll see some of these companies
reconsider and contribute to it, even if it’s GPL. That day, you’ll be glad
that you didn’t make it LGPL.

Cheers,
Benoit

On Wednesday 21 March 2007 23:35:42 Geoffrey Hutchison wrote:

We’ve probably all had enough discussion on licensing.

Certainly we have a small number of contributors now and could change
the license to LGPL if there was desire. Better to agree now.
Personally, I don’t see a problem with GPL.

Several people asked why Open Babel is GPL. Part is historical –
there was a huge, useful library under the GPL which I forked. (Open
Eye now makes OEChem which is closed.) I thought with some work, a
community would grow. I think I was right!

Here are a few reasons I thought GPL was good for Open Babel. Let’s
consider the past:

  • Commercial vendors in chemistry haven’t been particularly
    responsive to the community. IMHO, most take, and rarely give back.
    (This may change in the near future, but certainly wasn’t true in the
    late '90s or earlier.)
    e.g. http://www.bannedbygaussian.org/
  • Few open standards existed for chemistry. Some file formats are
    published, but no open implementations of reading PDB files, MDL
    files, SMILES, etc. I don’t know of ANY open APIs from closed
    vendors. Even Microsoft publishes something!
  • A division existed between software providers (i.e., companies) and
    chemistry software users. Pay them a lot of money, get some rarely-
    updated binaries. Your platform (Linux, Solaris) may not be supported
    (vs. SGI).
  • Some “free” (as in beer) products might stop development if their
    authors graduated, got jobs, left, got bored, etc.

So for motivation:

  • While GPL programs (e.g., babel) can be used by proprietary
    programs, they would need to contribute GPL code (e.g., their format)
    to gain use. This benefits the community. Vendors have an incentive
    to improve Babel. This happens periodically.
  • No one can use the code in a proprietary product, make changes, and
    never give them to the community.
  • The community is always assured of a free, open version of Babel.
    No one can lock it up again.
  • The code can be maintained even if the original author leaves, gets
    tired, etc.
    (This is hypothetical. Now I have employment and plan to continue –
    when I started, I was just a grad student.)

Look, I’ve offered some of my personal code to other people under
different licenses. I just think that the current chemistry software
companies have failed to provide what I want. So why should I be free
labor for them?

Just my $0.02,
-Geoff


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From what i’ve read it’s very easy to go from GPL to LGPL, although
the reverse, going from LGPL to GPL, can get messy. Just something I
read.

But yes thanks Geoff.

(Thu, Mar 22, 2007 at 07:57:27AM +0100) Benoît Jacob jacob@math.jussieu.fr:

Many thanks Geoff, that was an interesting read. Personnaly I don’t have any
problem with OpenBabel being GPL, but then again, it’s a potentially endless
discussion. If OpenBabel has been happy with GPL until now, it’ll probably be
even happier with it in the future as the community grows. First, OpenBabel
is already doing well without help from the companies that you mention.
Second, it’s possible that someday you’ll see some of these companies
reconsider and contribute to it, even if it’s GPL. That day, you’ll be glad
that you didn’t make it LGPL.

Cheers,
Benoit

On Wednesday 21 March 2007 23:35:42 Geoffrey Hutchison wrote:

We’ve probably all had enough discussion on licensing.

Certainly we have a small number of contributors now and could change
the license to LGPL if there was desire. Better to agree now.
Personally, I don’t see a problem with GPL.

Several people asked why Open Babel is GPL. Part is historical –
there was a huge, useful library under the GPL which I forked. (Open
Eye now makes OEChem which is closed.) I thought with some work, a
community would grow. I think I was right!

Here are a few reasons I thought GPL was good for Open Babel. Let’s
consider the past:

  • Commercial vendors in chemistry haven’t been particularly
    responsive to the community. IMHO, most take, and rarely give back.
    (This may change in the near future, but certainly wasn’t true in the
    late '90s or earlier.)
    e.g. http://www.bannedbygaussian.org/
  • Few open standards existed for chemistry. Some file formats are
    published, but no open implementations of reading PDB files, MDL
    files, SMILES, etc. I don’t know of ANY open APIs from closed
    vendors. Even Microsoft publishes something!
  • A division existed between software providers (i.e., companies) and
    chemistry software users. Pay them a lot of money, get some rarely-
    updated binaries. Your platform (Linux, Solaris) may not be supported
    (vs. SGI).
  • Some “free” (as in beer) products might stop development if their
    authors graduated, got jobs, left, got bored, etc.

So for motivation:

  • While GPL programs (e.g., babel) can be used by proprietary
    programs, they would need to contribute GPL code (e.g., their format)
    to gain use. This benefits the community. Vendors have an incentive
    to improve Babel. This happens periodically.
  • No one can use the code in a proprietary product, make changes, and
    never give them to the community.
  • The community is always assured of a free, open version of Babel.
    No one can lock it up again.
  • The code can be maintained even if the original author leaves, gets
    tired, etc.
    (This is hypothetical. Now I have employment and plan to continue –
    when I started, I was just a grad student.)

Look, I’ve offered some of my personal code to other people under
different licenses. I just think that the current chemistry software
companies have failed to provide what I want. So why should I be free
labor for them?

Just my $0.02,
-Geoff


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Join SourceForge.net’s Techsay panel and you’ll get the chance to share
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http://www.techsay.com/default.php?page=join.php&p=sourceforge&CID=DEVDEV


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Join SourceForge.net’s Techsay panel and you’ll get the chance to share your
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