Challenge with ABCL on a commercial project: Licensing

Mark Evenson evenson at
Sat Aug 8 10:10:00 UTC 2020

> On Aug 8, 2020, at 10:21, Steven Nunez <steve_nunez at> wrote:

>  BTW: it's not a matter of what I perceive, it's what the lawyers on both sides
>  of the contract perceive. I don't make the rules; I just obey them.

I think you mistate your own responsiblities and potential for agency.  You
certainly didn’t obey the rules of your contract when you prototyped software
with a forbidden license.  And now you attempting to persuade others to change
rules that you chose not to obey.

> Nevertheless, if you were willing to provide the necessary financial and legal
> resources, I would be ammendable to beginning such an effort that would somehow
> preserve the promised freedom that all previous contributors to ABCL have
> labored towards.  But from your not checking the ABCL license before you even
> entertained the notion of using it under such legal conditions, your having
> induced Alessio to provide a substantial contributions towards your desired
> usage, and to your new request for further unpaid work to utilize ABCL for your
> commercial contract, I fear that you have a fundamental misunderstanding of
> what working with “free” software actually entails.
> That's OK, I think I have my answer. I'm well aware of what it means to work with 'free' software, in all forms of 'free'. This wasn't intended to debate the philosophy or moral rights of software freedoms; it was intended to see if there was a practical solution to the use of ABCL in a commercial environment, given the contractual constraints. Providing 'financial and legal resources' isn't an option, so we'll end up following the path of least resistance. I just thought I'd put this out to the ABCL community to test the waters, and it's clear the waters are decidedly cold.

Describing my offer to be willing consider relicensing ABCL with proper
financial and legal support for the work it would entail is hardly “cold”.  If
you derive commercial value from something, you should be prepared to partake
in the externality costs involved in the creating the financial value you seek
to extract.

> Personally, I think non-GNU licenses are great for software communities, precisely because they do allow commercial entities to use the code and, today, most companies are happy to outsource their development costs to upstream maintainers; look at the commercial contributions to FreeBSD for example. It's a win-win that was unimaginable in Stallman's time. 

Many companies successfully use GNU copylefted software everyday, deriving
substansial financial profit.   Linux, a GNU copylefted software system, has
powered more commercially used systems than its closest competitors for more
than a decade now.  The expansive world afforded by the internetworking of
human genius provides ample space for both kinds of licensing to exist, and

The BSD licensing arrangement was largely contemporanous with “Stallman’s time”
(late 1980s), for which there were many successful commercial utlizations esp.
in the field of networking appliances (e.g. F5).  Arguing that it was
“unimaginable” is not at all persuasive.  Looking back, if anything, the
commercial success of GNU licensing terms is more unbelievable.

I have utililized, maintained, and originated many BSD-licensed codebases for
commercial entities.  But I didn’t originate ABCL and am unable to provide the
resources to undertake its potential relicensing.  If that’s cold, that’s
because it is reality.

"A screaming comes across the sky.  It has happened before but there is nothing 
to compare to it now."

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