[Mulgara-dev] License Question.

David Wood dwood at softwarememetics.com
Tue Oct 24 18:09:45 UTC 2006

Hi Ian,

I am a bit concerned over the direction of this thread.  Please allow  
me to stem the flow of hyperbole before the Mulgara project  
hemorrhages users.  With the caveat that I am not a lawyer, I have  
spoken to a large number of them over the years and periodically read  
each of the licenses in question in detail.  My comments are  
therefore not legal advice and you should seek your own from a  
qualified lawyer.  However, this is my understanding and the basis  
for our choice of license:

Firstly, there is no clause in the Open Software License (especially  
1c) which requires someone else's code to become Open Source (only  
the GPL does that).  The OSL's clause 1c does *not* require any any  
user of Mulgara to release their own code under an Open Source  
license.  However, it does require Mulgara itself, in either original  
or modified form, to remain under its original OSL license.  That  
means that a project using a proprietary license can use Mulgara if  
they wish, but they must comply with Mulgara's license in that  
Mulgara itself must remain Open Source.  This is not a problem in  
practice for most users - they simply have to list Mulgara's URL and  
license in their legal statements in pretty much the same way that  
Sakai's Apache license requires them to list Sakai's license.

Secondly, Mulgara's license makes no distinction between "public"  
APIs and the rest of Mulgara's code.  You, or anyone else, may use  
Mulgara all you want and in any way that you want as long as you  
comply with its license.  That means, in brief, that any Mulgara  
components that you *distribute* must be accompanied with at least a  
pointer to its license and a pointer to its source code.

A project using Mulgara does not necessarily have to distribute or  
even directly make available Mulgara's license or source code.  You  
can simply point to it in a legal notices file, like this:

This distribution contains source code from the Mulgara Semantic
Store.  Mulgara is licensed under the Open Software License
version 3.0 (http://www.opensource.org/licenses/osl-3.0.php)
where the "Original Work" is the Mulgara Semantic Store and
the "Licensor" is the Mulgara Project (http://mulgara.org).
Mulgara's source code may be found at http://mulgara.org

That's it.  Not so bad, eh?

Now, if you modify Mulgara's source code for your project, then you  
have to comply with other bits of the license and you will have to  
read them.  In any case, it is no big deal.

I suspect that your original question is really to do with the  
requirement that Mulgara must stay Open Source.  Several Open Source  
licenses have that requirement, including the GPL, the MPL and the  
OSL.  However, only the GPL triggers someone else's code to become  
Open Source (the "viral nature" of the GPL) and that is why Mulgara  
does not use the GPL.

We want good projects like Sakai to use Mulgara and are happy to have  
you do so!  Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for  



On 23 Oct2006, at 18:45, Ian Boston wrote:

> I have read with horror the history of how Mulgara came into life,  
> and I believe that you have made the right decision. I am working  
> as part of the Opensource project, www.sakaiproject.org. We have  
> some 60 Universities world wide contributing, and a handful of  
> commercial affiliates also contributing. We use an Apache style  
> license... and now the problem.
> We want to use a highly scalable triple store, we thought Kowali  
> with its MPL license was suitable, but having seen the behavior of  
> a certain corps legal department, and the distinct lack of  
> enthusiasm since then, I'm not so certain that we should follow  
> Kowari.
> We have great difficulty using an opensource license with GPL like  
> statements (eg OSL-v3 clause 1c) since it would force the few  
> commercial affiliates to opensource all there code. The core  
> community, with about 2M line of code has little interest in  
> forcing them to do this, as, in order to get support, they tend to  
> do it anyway. (and if they dont, we could change the API's :) under  
> them. )
> On the other hand I absolutely understand why Mulgara would want to  
> make certain that all commercial or other users of Mulgara  
> opensource all their code.
> So my question,
> Would it be acceptable to use the Driver code for Mulgara and  
> obviously, bind to that code....
> and
> 1. continue to use an Apache style license
> 2. not require others who deploy the code bundle, containing those  
> bindings to opensource their code.
> ---------------------
> When we have asked this same question of LGPL licensed code, in  
> general, the authors have confirmed that we are Ok to use their  
> jars in this form. We also deploy on MySQL, but the JDBC bindings  
> to the MySQL drivers are loose, so we can just ask deployers to  
> download their own jars. Presumably a similar loose binding would  
> resolver the issue in the case of Mulgara.
> As you might have guessed, I'm not a lawyer (thankfully) but I dont  
> want to commit the development time if I'm going to find that a  
> lawyer prevents us from using Mulgara.
> Thanks
> Ian Boston
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