[sane-devel] external backend license

m. allan noah kitno455 at gmail.com
Tue Mar 15 11:40:04 UTC 2016

First, let me state that I am not a lawyer, and much of what follows
is my opinion or interpretation.

Second, we have seen time and again that your users will be better
served by an open backend. If you keep the code closed, you will be
unable to support users on fringe platforms, (Do you build for the
BSDs? Do you build for unusual CPUs?) and you will probably fail to
keep up with changing times (when the Linux kernel has a new ABI in 4
years, are you going to provide recompiled versions?). Please
reconsider using the GPL.

Third, the intention of the exception in the sane license was to allow
closed-source front ends to link to sane without becoming polluted. It
was not done to allow closed-source backends to re-use the internals
of sane-backends.

Fourth, you are certainly free to use sane.h in your code, and
implement a backend from scratch. That is why sane.h is in the public
domain.  The questionable part is the use of sanei_* and related code
in a closed source backend. I believe this is against the spirit of
the exception. However, the exception is poorly worded, and could be
taken to allow static linking of sanei with an external backend. I
would not risk doing so without talking to my employer's lawyers


On Mon, Mar 14, 2016 at 10:43 PM, ky gcp <kygcpsample at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hi,
> I hope someone have answers to my licensing concern. Based on the text for
> the exception, they put an exception into the GPL license so that it acts
> like the LGPL license. This allows linking (probably dynamic) against the
> library, but would not cover compiling directly with the code.
> 1) If we compile our external backend with the sane-backends source, does it
> cover the exception? or does it mean that our external backend should
> automatically be shipped under GPL license?
> 2) Is it possible to compile an external backend without the sane-backends
> source?
> 3) Is there a developers guide for SANE external backends that says that you
> should compile directly with the sane-backends source?
> Thank you for your support.
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