[sane-devel] Please give me some help to solve the license issues in using sane

kilgota at banach.math.auburn.edu kilgota at banach.math.auburn.edu
Wed Jun 11 01:02:17 UTC 2008

> They even say:
> ---------------------------------------------------------------
> If the program is already written using the non-free library,
> perhaps it is too late to change the decision. You may as well
> release the program as it stands, rather than not release it.
> ---------------------------------------------------------------

So others can take a look at replacing the non-free components and
benefit from the effort that went into writing the rest of the

(End Quote)

What is above should be taken in context, of course, but it raises a point 
which I think is relevant. That point is:

If someone cooperated with a "closed" library to such extent, then have 
the rights to continue to strive to replace said "closed" library with a 
"free" one been diminished or cut off? If no, then this is certainly one 
less problem. If yes, to any extent whatever, then this is certainly a 

This question is of the same genre of whether it is permissible for 
someone other than the owner, to distribute said "closed" library to 
"third parties" or whether all "third parties" must go and get the 
"closed" library individually and register for it. That one is bad, too, 
but this one is worse.

I am sure that the answer to questions like these would depend upon the 
case which is being considered, and upon the license terms which the owner 
of the "closed"  library would like to choose.

This is not a project where I have any code, so I do not exactly have a 
dog in this fight except for a genuine interest in the general issue. Also 
IANAL. But I would beware of side conditions, hooks, and traps. I do not 
think that I would want to sign on the line about something like this 
unless it were something quite different from what appears to me to be 

If it were code that I wrote and nobody else shares the copyright I might 
be so mercenary as to sell the right to use _my_ code in a proprietary 
product, released under a proprietary license by Canon or some other 
company. But they would have to pay me well. One of my requirements would 
also be that the right of the code to continue to exist as free GPL or 
LGPL code is not impaired and my rights to contribute to it are also not 
impaired. I repeat. My code. Not someone else's code.

My understanding is that there is no prohibition in any license, including 
GPL or LGPL, for the owner of the copyright to make such agreements with 
other entities.

But this is not the present case. So why don't you all make a 
counter-offer, that if Canon wants to use your excellent driver software 
as part of a Linux driver for one or more of their scanners, then it 
should do something like the following:

1. Announce with publicity that it pays to the SANE project a donation of 
X dollars (or, better these days, euros). One million is a nice round 
number, looks very handsome, and in view of what is involved does not look 
unduly greedy.

2. Also to each copyright holder of the specific code that they want to 
use, one hundred thousand euros more.

3. A continuing royalty to be paid, per number of software units that 
Canon ships, to the SANE project and to the code copyright holding 
authors. This also to be publicly announced.

4. A public statement from Canon that it appreciates the work of the SANE 
project and a pledge that it wishes to cooperate in the future with the 
project to the extent that it feels able to do so.

5. Canon commits itself that none of the above derogates or diminishes the 
rights of others, including the SANE project and coders for it in 
particular, to improve the Linux drivers for Canon hardware by whatever 
means are needed and customary for such work.

6. Canon also commits itself to respect for the Free Software movement and 
will not join nor support endeavors by others to derogate or diminish the 
rights of people to support that movement or to work for it, by producing 
GPL-licensed code.

Etc, in case I left something off. By all means consult an attorney first. 
But you see what I mean. If you came up with some lemons, then make 

Theodore Kilgore

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