Changing GPGME's license

Greg Troxel gdt at
Fri Jul 18 17:25:03 CEST 2003

I think you are quite right to point out the conflicting goals of
widely available crypto and free software.  In my view, the total
impact of GPGME on the greater struggle for proprietary software will
be small, whereas the impact on the struggle for universally-avaiable
crypto will be large.

Consider also the kernel of the arugment for using GPL in a library:
developers of proprietary software will have a choice of using the
library and making their software Free (and copylefted), or not using
the library.  This is a very effective lever on smaller projects.  It
will not be at all effective on Eudora or Outlook.  They have the
resources to reimplement, and will not make their software Free in
order to adopt GPGME.

The next question is whether they consider OpenPGP capability a real
requirement; it seems clear that the "mass market" does not, even
though users might.  So, if faced with the choice of reimplementing
something like GPGME to plug into gpg, or simply not, the choice is
likely to be not.  Even with GPGME as LGPL, I would not expect large
companies to adopt it into their products; that gets into the
obligations of clause 6 to distribute linkable .o's and to refrain
from prohibiting reverse engineering.

So, an offer to let such places use GPGME in proprietary programs
(with normal commercial terms, for money), might be a good strategy,
combining the goals of widespread adoption and recovering some of
your costs, while leaving the library as GPL or LGPL for others.

The question of GPL vs LGPL probably comes down to how easy you want
to make it for BSD/X11-licensed Free software, or software that is
somewhere between Free and Corporate.  Although I realize the copyleft
argument against the BSD/X11 style license, those licenses aren't the

On rereading your message, I saw that Evolution has a problem with the
license.  I presume this is due to their dual-license scheme with
Connector.  Again, you could try the $-for-license scheme, or decide
that Evolution doing things nicely is worth changing to LGPL.  If
software like that were dominant, rather than truly proprietary
software with frequently-changing, undocumented interfaces, the world
would be vastly better off, even if we would not quite have arrived at
the Free Software Utopia.

        Greg Troxel <gdt at>

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