Script interpreter licensing issues

Programming applications for making music on Linux.

Moderators: khz, MattKingUSA

Post Reply
VanHammen
Established Member
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2015 3:53 pm
Has thanked: 8 times
Been thanked: 5 times

Script interpreter licensing issues

Post by VanHammen »

Got a user request for my "bipscript" project: dump GPL and go with MIT!

Gut reaction is "lol no" but I'm wondering if there's a point to be made regarding those who want to write scripts and then distribute them.

I pasted my reply below, does anyone here see anything factually incorrect with what I'm saying here?
  • core bipscript interpreter is GPL and likely to stay that way due to depedencies and the community it's born from, commercial licensing can always be arranged (sorry not sorry to those simply seeking free beer)
  • bipscript xt extensions can be any license, in the same way proprietary plugins can be loaded in Ardour (a GPL'd DAW)
  • bipscripts themselves are generally used to create music as output - this music is 100% owned by its creator and can be distributed as they choose, the same as music made with Ardour
  • bipscripts that are themselves software to be distributed - well that's a big question mark (?). Would the viral nature of GPL apply? Or could the scripts themselves be distributed as BSD or proprietary software?
I've seen large companies with no qualms distributing highly proprietary Java code to be run on the GPL'd OpenJDK, but the latter has a linking exception I believe which may make the difference here. If that's true I'm open to such an exception for the bipscript intrepreter as well.
original issue: https://gitlab.domainepublic.net/bipscr ... /issues/11
User avatar
d.healey
Established Member
Posts: 469
Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:33 pm
Has thanked: 126 times
Been thanked: 49 times

Re: Script interpreter licensing issues

Post by d.healey »

Stick with GPL unless you don't mind other people using your code in proprietary projects.
David Healey
YouTube - Free HISE scripting and sample library dev tutorials
Libre Wave - Freedom respecting instruments and effects.
Basslint
Established Member
Posts: 1330
Joined: Sun Jan 27, 2019 2:25 pm
Location: Italy
Has thanked: 285 times
Been thanked: 220 times

Re: Script interpreter licensing issues

Post by Basslint »

Sadly, there is an anti-copyleft sentiment which has been fostered by years and years of FUD against the GPL, mostly by companies which obviously want the kind of free labor that permissive licenses (and the GPLv2, in some cases) allow. So some people will swear by "MIT (or BSD) or nothing", repeating a mantra which is not even shared by the Open Source Initiative, the less political org compared to the FSF.
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. [Acts 4:32]

Please donate time (even bug reports) or money to libre software 🎁

Jam on openSUSE + GeekosDAW!
User avatar
raboof
Established Member
Posts: 1842
Joined: Tue Apr 08, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Deventer, NL
Has thanked: 33 times
Been thanked: 59 times
Contact:

Re: Script interpreter licensing issues

Post by raboof »

VanHammen wrote: Thu Jul 28, 2022 2:15 pm Gut reaction is "lol no" but I'm wondering if there's a point to be made regarding those who want to write scripts and then distribute them.
I'm not familiar enough with bipscript to say anything with confidence, but in general I don't see how that would be a problem: it is very possible to have proprietary C code, even if it must be compiled by the GPL GCC compiler.

There might be an exception needed for linking with GPL'ed standard libraries and distributing the combined result, but since you describe bipscript as an interpreter it sounds like that does not apply?
bipscripts that are themselves software to be distributed - well that's a big question mark (?). Would the viral nature of GPL apply? Or could the scripts themselves be distributed as BSD or proprietary software?
I think the question here is whether those scripts are distributed in standalone 'source form' or as some kind of compiled binary or 'bundle' with bipscript. When in 'source form' I don't see a problem. When distributing in bundled or compiled form I could see the viral nature kick in, but as long as the 'interpreter' and the 'script' are sufficiently separate I think that should be fine.

I am highly doubtful of their claim that "Developers would be probably more interested if it's MIT vs GPL.".
VanHammen
Established Member
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2015 3:53 pm
Has thanked: 8 times
Been thanked: 5 times

Re: Script interpreter licensing issues

Post by VanHammen »

Thank you all for your replies, I remain convinced the GPL is the correct license for this project for several reasons: the compatibility with the larger Linux community, the ability to assimilate other GPL'd code, and not least the free speech principle.

The open question was what happens when someone wants to distribute a script, this becomes more of an issue as GUI support now exists and in theory one could make what looks like a "real" desktop application.

@raboof I think you are correct: it is an interpreted language, so nothing to stop one from publishing a standalone script as MIT-licensed (or BSD or CC0 or..). The sole caveat as you say is one needs a GPL licensed interpreter to run it. But there's no copyright on a script API, @Basslint as you point out there exists a certain "MIT is better" crowd - if they really believe this principle then they are welcome to fund a compatible API implementation (frankly I'd be delighted to see that)

In the meantime the intention of the project was another niche tool for musicians to make music and as there are zero legal encumbrances to the music so created then whatever issue is here will not slow down the target audience at all.

Thanks again for your thoughts.
nils
Established Member
Posts: 460
Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 9:05 pm
Has thanked: 13 times
Been thanked: 56 times
Contact:

Re: Script interpreter licensing issues

Post by nils »

I asked the FSF about scripts and plugins in the past (don't confuse this with legal advice. It is not.)

They said if a plugin or script only works in this one specific host program (and therefore needs it) it is considered derived code of GPL and therefore GPL.

If it is a generic API, likely with multiple options for host programs, then it is free to license by the script author.
User avatar
d.healey
Established Member
Posts: 469
Joined: Fri Sep 22, 2017 8:33 pm
Has thanked: 126 times
Been thanked: 49 times

Re: Script interpreter licensing issues

Post by d.healey »

nils wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 1:28 pm I asked the FSF about scripts and plugins in the past (don't confuse this with legal advice. It is not.)

They said if a plugin or script only works in this one specific host program (and therefore needs it) it is considered derived code of GPL and therefore GPL.

If it is a generic API, likely with multiple options for host programs, then it is free to license by the script author.
That seems very simplistic. What happens when someone makes a new host program?
David Healey
YouTube - Free HISE scripting and sample library dev tutorials
Libre Wave - Freedom respecting instruments and effects.
VanHammen
Established Member
Posts: 33
Joined: Sat Aug 29, 2015 3:53 pm
Has thanked: 8 times
Been thanked: 5 times

Re: Script interpreter licensing issues

Post by VanHammen »

nils wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 1:28 pm They said if a plugin or script only works in this one specific host program (and therefore needs it) it is considered derived code of GPL and therefore GPL.

If it is a generic API, likely with multiple options for host programs, then it is free to license by the script author.
Thank you @nils that's exactly what I was wondering
d.healey wrote: Sun Jul 31, 2022 7:18 pm That seems very simplistic. What happens when someone makes a new host program?
In that case doesn't the "multiple options for host programs" bit apply?

I feel like the solution here is just to explicitly publish the API as CC0 - it can't be copywritten anyway from what I understand. Then anyone is welcome to make an implementation using any license. Anyone worried about script distribution licensing issues can contribute to a non-GPL implementation, problem solved.

This is such a niche project that I hardly believe this is an issue, indeed the sole anonymous user making this request has so far refused to explain their motivations for doing so or even how they are using the codebase. Seems like maybe FUD and concern trolling from someone seeking free beer.

But it's still good to understand and discuss licensing issues like this, thanks again for the comments.
Post Reply