An idea - request for comments

Martijn Faassen m.faassen at
Mon Aug 9 11:13:30 CEST 1999

phil <phil at> wrote:
[snip discussion of licenses, GPL, etc]
> I can't forbid commercial use. This was why i chose Python. I have no
> idea if people can or will  make money on my interface. If Python
> imposes commercial limitations then i'll have to drop it, pissed-ly,
> since i spent quite a bit of time writing an extension, but that's the
> way it goes.

I'm confused. Perhaps you're under the impression Python is distributed
under the GPL? It's not; it's distributed under its own license which
(read it) basically allows you to do anything you like with it, commercial
or not.

The GPL allows any use and modifications, as long as you supply the source
code of your modifications, also GPL-ed. And if you base your work on a
GPL-ed library the intent of the GPL is that you GPL your work as well.
By this means GPL-ed code tries to 'infect' anything that uses it (note that
the output of GPL-ed software can still be used freely, such as in the case
of the gcc compiler). The 'LGPL' (library GPL or these days 'lesser GPL')
is more liberal in the sense that non GPL code can use it without having to
be GPL itself.

All this is however not applicable to Python (though it may be to some
extension libraries), as Python does not come with a GPL license.

There are advantages to the GPL and the non GPL ways to open source code;
the GPL tends to safeguard against code splits and enhancements not making
it to the general public, while the BSD-style licenses (is the Python
license one in the practical usage sense?) allow practically any use, which
allows some enhancements to remain private, but also makes it easier for
companies to work with Python; companies which may eventually contribute
a lot to Python and open source software in general. One Pythonic example of
such a company is Digital Creations, which open sourced a lot of Python
code before it finally went all the way in open sourcing their Zope
framework. It would be hard to imagine something like this if Python was
covered by the GPL, though the GPL has its own famous examples (like Cygnus
for gcc).

License-pundit-for-5-minutes-ly yours,


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