Hello ede, all,

I tried to read the licence again and again and decided to ask Bernhard
Reiter (BER), a collegue of mine and Free Software licence expert about a
statement to the ECW-license-text posted by ede.

He is not subscribed to this list, so I post his writing here on his

BER> Analysis of "ecw license.txt",
BER> The first paragraph mentions four licensing options. One is for
BER> applications licensed "under a GNU General Public style license
BER> ("GPL")".  The second has limitations and the third one is for
BER> "commercial applications".  Given the explicit mention of GNU GPL
BER> style licenses, it can be assumed that "commercial applications"
BER> more precisely means "proprietary applications".
BER> The fourth option is to ask for a license for the use in
BER> applications "that are outside of the terms of these agreements,
BER> including server-side applications". So it is not entirely clear
BER> that server-side applications are meant to be included in the
BER> first three licensing options.
BER> Aiming at a Free Software application our best candidate seems to
BER> be the first option, which is called the "ECW JPEG 2000 SDK
BER> PUBLIC USE LICENSE AGREEMENT".  Let us examine it in more detail:
BER> The first section states the intent of the license "to establish
BER> freedom to share and change the software regulated by this
BER> license under the open source model". 
BER> This is a good sign.
BER> However the use of the software is further restricted to "to
BER> develop or be distributed with products that are licensed under a
BER> license similar to a General Public License ("GPL") and at no
BER> charge to the public." As it is possible to place software under
BER> the GNU GPL v2 or v3 for which access to is limited or charged
BER> for, use of this software would already be an additional
BER> restriction towards the GNU GPL v2+ license.  And thus be
BER> forbidden by the GNU GPL licenses itself. As GNU GPL style
BER> licences are allowed only, maybe a license GNU GPL with a special
BER> exception for the libary might use the library so far. Let us
BER> look further.
BER> The license of the library itself seems to be unfree, because of
BER> the no-charge restriction, the assumed server-only restriction
BER> and the restriction to not change the format. There used to be a
BER> clear non-server restriction in 1)b)iv) in an elder version of
BER> the license:
BER> http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2005/02/msg00051.html which
BER> got removed in the current one under examination.
BER> The no-charge restriction will also result in major
BER> GNU-Distribution being unable to ship the ecw libaries, e.g.
BER> Debian has discussed a few times and also always concluded that
BER> the license is non-free. E.g.
BER> http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2005/02/msg00061.html has
BER> three unfree reasons.
BER> And then there are patents: The
BER> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-2.0.html states in 3. 7) that the
BER> patents must allow a royality free use for everybody that
BER> receives the source code under this license. A modifed source
BER> code that changes the ecw format would be available under the
BER> license, but probably not allowed by the patent grand of the ecw
BER> lib. Therefore a "GPL v2+exception" license would not work, you
BER> could not distribute the software. Section 3. 6) forbits adding
BER> of further restrictions, so the combined GNU GPL v2 + exc lib is
BER> undistributable.  The situation is similiar with the GNU GPLv3.
BER> As it is unclear what under a 'GNU General Public style license
BER> ("GPL")' means, there might be licenses that might allow the
BER> derived work of ecw libraries and itself to be developed and
BER> distributed.  The obvious choices GNU GPLv2 and v3 do not allow
BER> it, though.
BER> On the freegis lists, there have been discussion about this a few
BER> times, e.g.
BER> http://freegis.org/pipermail/freegis-list/2006-September/thread.html
BER> clearly showing that the license is problematic.



edgar.sol...@web.de, [20111007 - 11:21:10]

> First and foremost, there is _no_ license issue here. We have two
> licenses, to which terms we have to agree and act.
> ECW SDK license (note: version 3.3):
> For everyone unsure i attached the license of the ecw code used to
> this email. Our use case is the first license in there: -->
> Use of the ECW JPEG 2000 SDK with Unlimited Decompressing and
> Unlimited Compression for applications licensed under a GNU General
> Public style license ("GPL") is governed by the "ECW JPEG 2000 SDK
> PUBLIC USE LICENSE AGREEMENT". <-- The only drawback would be some
> commercial restriction "selling,renting not allowed", but this
> shouldn't be our concern, because we do _nothing_ of that sort and
> anyone who wants to should make sure to oblige _all_ licenses.
> GPL2:
> Secondly there is the GPLv2, the oj license. Everybody can get a copy
> themselves. in a nutshell it protects every code based on gpl code by
> extending gpl to it. This actually does not prevent you to use
> libraries or other software with it. It "merely" insists on proper
> interfaces, which make sure that these are independent software
> parts. This can be problematic, because a lot of interfacing in some
> programming languages is done by definitions, which are done in
> source code themselves. So actually if a library would include this
> code, it would need to be gpl'd again. But this is not the case here.
> There is a clean separation of the source code and oj is merely using
> ecw routines, not the other way around. This is covered by the
> "plugin" definition.
> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#GPLAndPlugins
> in conclusion, no problem here.
> ..ede

Stephan Holl <stephan.h...@intevation.de> | Tel.: +49 (0)541-33 508 3663
Intevation GmbH, Neuer Graben 17, 49074 OS  |  AG Osnabrück - HR B 18998
Geschäftsführer:  Frank Koormann, Bernhard Reiter, Dr. Jan-Oliver Wagner

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