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wxWidgets 2.6.1 License changes: Commerical Devs beware?

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 2:50 pm
by tauceti96
Hi all. Not sure where to post this. I typically ignore the rantings of Anonymous Cowards on Slashdot but during a discussion of QT 4.0 the typical mention of wxWidgets occurred. Then someone posted the following which at first I dismissed, then I verified as being true for wx 2.6.1

I really think this needs to be brought to the attention of the people who craft the wx license. I don't know if you folks realize it but the "exclusion clause" of the wx lisence has been significantly altered, or at least it has become more ambiguous than it was in 2.6.0. Here's the text of the /. message:

WARNING: ASK YOUR ATTORNEY AND THE FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION (FSF) REGARDING LGPL REQUIREMENTS INSTEAD OF TRUSTING THE COMMENTS OF STRANGERS ON THE INTERNET

The cost can be huge for commercial products using open source libraries without paying careful attention to licensing requirements.

wxWidgets 2.6.1 (latest) has changed the wording of their license from wxWidgets 2.6.0 that should be of interest to commercial, closed source projects that distribute binaries.

Unless you don't mind giving permission to modify and reverse-engineer your commercial product's binaries, you may want to stick with older versions of wxWidgets like 2.6.0 and completely avoid the 2.6.1 release. Otherwise, you may be distributing trial versions or cheaper "limited features" versions to customers and giving them permission to modify the binaries for their own use.

The advice I received was to migrate my wxWidgets 2.6.0 (and earlier) projects to a GUI toolkit with a commercial license like QT. I'm hoping wxWidgets 2.6.2 will return to the more generous licensing for binaries so I won't have to do this.

EXHIBIT A - LGPL 2.0 requirement on 'terms of your choice'
[...] and distribute that work under terms of your choice, provided that the terms permit modification of the work for the customer's own use and reverse engineering for debugging such modifications.

EXHIBIT B (wxWidgets 2.6.0 exception)
See wxWidgets Manual 2.6.0 (chm format)

2. The exception is that you may create binary object code versions of any works using this library or based on this library, and use, copy, modify, link and distribute such binary object code files unrestricted under terms of your choice.

EXHIBIT C (wxWidgets 2.6.1 exception)
See wxWidgets Manual 2.6.1 (chm format)

2. The exception is that you may use, copy, link, modify and distribute under the user's own terms, binary object code versions of works based on the Library.

SUMMARY
1. Note the removal of the word unrestricted in 2.6.1.

2. Note the change from "your own terms" to "user's own terms". Perhaps not as important as point #1 since "your = user's" argument might succeed but don't count on it.

3. Note the impact of these changes given EXHIBIT A (LGPL requirement on your own terms) or have your lawyer or FSF explain it to you.

I think this example shows the benefits of dual-license approach taken by Trolltech and MySQL for commercial products considering the use of open source libraries.

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 8:44 pm
by mispunt
Does this license have effect on your own program? isn't the license based on Library General Public License? (which as far as my knolledge gows only applys to the library which you are using)

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 9:18 pm
by Jengu
Can someone from wxwidgets clarify this?

Posted: Wed Jun 29, 2005 11:00 pm
by eco
This has been dicussed ad nauseum on the wx-dev mailing list. See the archives if you want to know more about it.

Posted: Thu Jun 30, 2005 6:36 pm
by Ryan Norton
In short, it should be ok, but no one is 100% sure about it IIRC.

Anyway, if you even remotely use a (L)GPL'd lib like gnome or something, even through WX, you fall under this anyway.

Posted: Fri Jul 01, 2005 4:09 am
by tauceti96
Hi. Thanks for the info. I don't follow the archive but I took a look in it. I want to be clear I am NOT the originator of the /. message, just someone who stumbled across it and have absolutely no interest in spreading disinformation. I looked at the message, looked and the license, read the referenced portion of the LGPL and the points raised by it seemed legit. I do hope the old license is reinstated as it seemed more clear. But didn't mean to stir up trouble.

tauceti96