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[vox] need help: long boring question about the GPL
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[vox] need help: long boring question about the GPL

hi all,

i need help here...

bill alexander gave a talk about a program called chord (version 3).  i
have a question about licensing --- the terms are big mess.

1. the source code zip file contains a file named "license.txt".  it's a
   verbatim copy of the GNU GPL.  not the lesser GPL.  the GPL, with no
   other restrictions.

2. when you run the program with the -A switch, the program declares
   itself licensed under the GNU GPL.  not the lesser GPL.  the GPL.
   no other restrictions.

3. chord 3 makes use of GNU getopt() which is licensed under the LGPL.

4. version 4 of the program (written in java) is on sourceforge and is
   licensed under the pure GPL.  i think this is irrelevent though.

5. the download website (for version 3) and a readme file contained in
   the source code zip file have a modified (more restrictive) version
   of the GNU GPL.  here it is, verbatim:

   CHORD is licensed following the conditions of the
   general GNU license. You are authorized to use this program free of
   charge. You are authorized to distribute this program freely as long as
   the full source is included. You are not allowed to remove the
   `copyright' notices from the authors nor are you allowed to pretend you
   wrote it. You are not allowed to charge any money for CHORD. You are
   not allowed to distribute a modified version of CHORD without written
   authorizations from the authors. You are not allowed to use parts of
   CHORD in any other commercial or public-domain software. Sorry for all
   the negatives rules ... but we've been bitten once!

6. i contacted the authors, asking them about the licensing.  no reply.

7. the source code itself (the .c and .h files) have no copyright notice
   in them, other than handling the -A switch which prints out the pure
   GPL with no restrictions.

i'd like to focus on the restrictions that say:

a. you're not allowed to distribute a modified version of the program
   without written consent of the authors.

b. you can't use the source code in any other commercial or public
   domain software.

first of all, these restrictions are a clear violation of the GPL.

second of all, i *think* the restrictions are also a violation of the
LGPL, if and only if the term "library" refers also to "source code".  i
believe it does.  the LGPL says in section 0 (focus on the word "work"):

   The "Library", below, refers to any such software library or work
   which has been distributed under these terms.

this is important to me because i have modified the program (version 3)
and would like to redistribute the changes, with their authorship and
copyright intact.   i believe both the GPL and LGPL give me the right.

so i have the following questions:

1. what license should i consider chord version 3 to be licensed under?
   the GPL, LGPL, GPL with their restrictions or LGPL with their

2. are their restrictions a violation of the GPL?

3. are their restrictions in violation of the LGPL?

4. pragmatically, can i release their code with my modifications without

sorry for the long winded post, but it's a confusing topic.

if you want to see the zip ball that i downloaded the source code from,


click on "CHORD3.6.ZIP".


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