MySQL FLOSS License Exception Discussed at OSI plus Community Crisis Management Analysed

A substantial thread discussing the MySQL FLOSS License Exception has evolved on the mailinglist of the Open Source Initiative.

Some quotes:

Essentially, they’re trying to retrofit via a licence exception some of the licence semantics of LGPL. (Rick Moen)

As for the MySQL License Exception, I believe its interpretation of the effects of the GPL, and its description of what happens when you create *collective works* with MySQL and other open source software, is accurate. I also happen to believe that this “Exception” doesn’t need to be an exception at all, because that’s how the GPL should be interpreted anyway. “Independent and separate works” can never be forced under the GPL if they are not *derivative works* of GPL programs. The MySQL folks have tried to eliminate confusion about their licenses by stating in their own words what the GPL and LGPL really do anyway. (Lawrence Rosen, OSI)

In way of a brief update, the exception is currently being reviewed by our lawyers and then should be going through to our CEO for approval. (Zak Greant, MySQL)

Actually, v0.2 of the exception will apply to both client and server. (Zak Greant, MySQL)

It is interesting to see how MySQL has made its way out of the PHP community when switching the client code to GPL by introducing and openly discussing the license exception. I think it would be appropriate to label it “community crisis management”, a new discipline for future business consultants in the FLOSS market :)

Essentially, the trick that did it is common-place: once there is a conflict, only a pro-active strategy can re-ensure trust between the involved parties. No doubts, that MySQL has been late to actively seek for a solution with the PHP devs in the beginning. I guess that the delay is correlated with the experiences that MySQL made in the lawsuite with NuSphere, because MySQL had to thoroughly think through all the potential implications of a license exception to never let happen the NuSphere problem again. Given that in the future even bigger players (only an oracle can tell who…) could use wholes in the license exception to damage MySQL, one can understand the still very careful proceeding.

About Sandro Groganz

Sandro Groganz is an expert in the field of marketing open-source products. He co-founded Age of Peers, a global communications agency for organizations in Open Source. He served as Head of Marketing at Magnolia, creator of the open web content management system Magnolia CMS, Vice President of Marketing at Mindquarry, an open source startup financed by Hasso Plattner Ventures, and Vice President of Communication at eZ Systems, the creator of the open source content management system eZ Publish.

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