Is LGPL really the best license option for the future of Cocos2D?

Forums Programming Programming – Everything else Is LGPL really the best license option for the future of Cocos2D?

This topic contains 19 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  slycrel 3 years, 11 months ago.

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March 27, 2010 at 8:57 am #220675

CJ
Moderator
@wiseganesha

@Riq and others…

As you may know I am an active participant in the Cocos2D forums and contributor of a few source code improvements as well.

I love cocos2d and the community here, however, one thing I don’t like are lawyers (sorry, nothing personal) and by extension the LGPL license. I do like open source, but LGPL is restrictive, confusing, and potentially expensive if you need to fight in court over it. It is thus a deterrent for many experienced software companies (including individuals who are wary of potential legal issues).

I just want to propose that Cocos2D be re-licensed under a permissive license (like MIT) which basically reduces the developer’s requirements from:

* Requirements depend on your particular usage… go read about it here: http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview/id/439136.html

to only:

* “The above copyright notice and this permission notice shall be included in all copies or substantial portions of the Software.”

( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permissive_free_software_license )

Some of you may be familiar with the Ogre3D engine and it recently switched to MIT for it’s most recent release. Here is the article with their rationale behind the switch:

http://www.ogre3d.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=52538&start=0

I would like to get feedback from both users of and contributors to Cocos2D on this proposal :)

Thanks,

CJ

March 27, 2010 at 10:24 am #278021

CJ
Moderator
@wiseganesha

The Boost license is even more permissive than MIT in that it only requires the copyright notice in source distribution and not in binary distributions:

http://www.boost.org/users/license.html

March 27, 2010 at 11:31 am #278022

riq
Keymaster
@admin

This is the cocos2d license:

http://www.cocos2d-iphone.org/wiki/doku.php/license

What’s confusing about this license ? Thanks.

March 27, 2010 at 12:47 pm #278023

CJ
Moderator
@wiseganesha

@riq thanks, I wasn’t confused by your additions, but the google code project page still says LGPL http://code.google.com/p/cocos2d-iphone/

Anyway it seems like your changes to the LGPL take the license in the direction of more permissive, and in doing so you have created a NEW license which in itself makes it potentially more difficult for you to take legal action against any user of Cocos2D in any case. Therefore I still recommend that you move to an existing license that best matches the intent of the the contributors to Cocos2D.

Changing licenses would mean you probably have to get sign-off from existing contributors, but I’ll be the first to say I welcome the change.

April 30, 2010 at 6:40 am #278024

CJ
Moderator
@wiseganesha

Sorry to bring this up again, but I don’t think this discussion went anywhere. Does anyone else support the idea of changing the license?

April 30, 2010 at 9:39 am #278025

riq
Keymaster
@admin

I didn’t have any complaint about the current license. I really don’t see why I need to change it.

I’m not saying that I don’t what to change it. What I’m saying is that I don’t see the need to change it, at least at the moment.

April 30, 2010 at 1:49 pm #278026

slipster216
Moderator
@slipster216

I agree with LGPL’s vagueness being an issue for some corporations. We can’t use LGPL code at Harmonix, even in internal tools, because our Lawyers don’t like the grey areas the licence imposes. In our specific case, it comes down to what is considered distribution. For instance, we often distribute parts of our tool set to outsource houses or external developers, is that considered distribution by the LGPL licence? Unknown.

Personally I don’t really care that much because I’m unlikely to run into any of these issues but I can see why CJ brings it up.

April 30, 2010 at 3:40 pm #278027

riq
Keymaster
@admin

cocos2d is not licensed under LGPL, but I wound’t mind changing the license if companies don’t use it because they don’t understand/ or don’t like the current the license.

Changing the license takes some time: contacting all the authors and ask them permission to relicense their code, so I would prefer to do it if it is really necessary to do it.

April 30, 2010 at 7:47 pm #278028

CJ
Moderator
@wiseganesha

@riq my first concern is with using a custom license. I would prefer it be released under a standard license whatever it may be. Secondly if you do conform to an existing license then LGPL is out and we’ll need to look at something else. I really like the zlib and MIT licenses. They are short, clear, and easy to defend to your company (boss/lawyer) to assure them they will not run into legal battles down the road.

I know changing the license is a little hassle, but if the community is behind the change it would be a nice (and pressworthy) change for the 1.0 final release.

April 30, 2010 at 8:03 pm #278029

riq
Keymaster
@admin

@CJ: I’ll study both the zlib and MIT license ( I think that Steve is going to change the CocosDenshion license to MIT )

May 1, 2010 at 2:08 am #278030

Steffen Altwiese
Moderator
@steve-oldmeadow

Yeah, next CocosDenshion will have an MIT license. I like MIT, it is a no worries license.

The main reason I moved to MIT is because I will be including some MIT licensed code in the future and I didn’t feel comfortable including that in something with a more restrictive license (even though I would be legally allowed to do that).

May 1, 2010 at 3:49 am #278031

CJ
Moderator
@wiseganesha

I feel the same way Steve, and I would like to spend some time bringing 3D support to cocos2d by making use of oolong engine which is licensed under MIT. If cocos2d doesn’t switch to a less restrictive license then I am inclined to just start from scratch with oolong and go from there (But it would be a shame to invest so much effort into re-creating something like cocos2d just because of the license).

May 1, 2010 at 3:55 pm #278032

rolando
Moderator
@rolando

hey @riq, maybe you could move to something like what Sam Lantinga did with libsdl 1.3:

http://www.galaxygameworks.com

I think that’s a fair scheme for everybody.

r.-

May 9, 2010 at 5:56 pm #278033

CJ
Moderator
@wiseganesha

@riq Had any time to look at those licenses?

I’m about to write a big blog post about the merits of permissive open source over restrictive open source (basically *GPL vs *MIT) as it pertains to working professionals (and not hippies (no offense hippies, you’re really great)).

One of the key premises for this article will be that I think contributing to an open source project that is permissively licensed gives you freedom to move about in your career without losing the ability to continue using your code elsewhere. Companies typically don’t have a big problem using permissively licensed code because their lawyers don’t sweat bullets reading the license. Whereas restrictively licensed code just isn’t portable in this way.

Most people probably think of open source as a really great thing because it guarantees the code will never be locked away from people, but often the effect of restrictive licensing is that you can look but not touch. This is bad enough when there is a perfectly good open source library you’d like to use but cannot because its license just isn’t compatible with your company’s MO, and it’s worse when that OS library is something you personally wrote or contributed to.

My feeling is that the more permissive the license, the more willing freelance developers will be to contribute. When they find themselves contracting with other companies or even hired on as employees, the code they produced as part of the permissive open source project can likely be used wherever they go.

May 9, 2010 at 6:41 pm #278034

riq
Keymaster
@admin

@rolando: Thanks, but I’ll continue to use a single license.

@CJ: Not yet, but I’ll study them in the future.

IMHO there is no such a thing as “best license” without including context. MIT is not better than GPL, or BSD or a closed source license (and vice-versa) without context. It is important to also discuss what/how you want to protect it.

eg: Would the Linux kernel be as successful as it is if it were licensed under MIT ? I don’t know, but it seems that GPL works great for them.

May 9, 2010 at 8:07 pm #278035

CJ
Moderator
@wiseganesha

I think operating system and tools work a lot better as GPL because you’re not distributing them in software that you create. You might use it to build your software like gcc, or expect the user to already have it to run your software like linux. But when you are distributing your app which actually contains open source portions, I think it’s entirely different.

May 10, 2010 at 2:39 am #278036

samkass
Participant
@samkass

I know this isn’t a democracy but I’d like to throw my hat in with the MIT/BSD crowd. The GPL-based licenses carry a lot of baggage which isn’t really legally resolved by your additions to the LGPL, and it seems like the App Store flies in the face of the intent of the GPL anyway. Here’s a summary of LGPL/app store licensing that actually mentions the cocos2d-iphone license.

May 13, 2010 at 1:18 pm #278037

riq
Keymaster
@admin

MIT license sounds good to me.

I’ll be sending an email to all the people who appear on the headers files, asking them permission to re-license their code under MIT.

May 13, 2010 at 4:15 pm #278038

CJ
Moderator
@wiseganesha

@riq Cool :)

I suggest you determine that the 1.0 release will be changing licenses to the MIT and let any past authors opt their contributions out if they so choose. If you end up with any authors choosing to do so, then I’ll be happy to help write new code as a replacement.

May 14, 2010 at 4:19 am #278039

slycrel
Participant
@slycrel

Looks like I’m a little late to this one, but I also approve of the MIT license, I have used it in the past and likely will again. Thanks for the effort this will require Riq!

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