[sane-devel] SANE-Backend for Brother PDS-series scanner

m. allan noah kitno455 at gmail.com
Sun Sep 18 12:18:25 UTC 2016

On Sun, Sep 18, 2016 at 6:25 AM, Olaf Meeuwissen
<paddy-hack at member.fsf.org> wrote:
> Hi Allan,
> I just dashed off a rather long explation to James and the list.
> m. allan noah writes:
>> I personally am of the opinion that Brother is in violation of our
>> license. However, our license is not strictly GPL, and the differences
>> were clearly not written by a lawyer. You could argue that we give
>> some space for a company to steal our work, and keep it from their
>> users.
> The sane-backends source code contains files that are GPL and some that
> are GPL with an exception.  The exception is similar in spirit to what
> the LGPL allows and was, IIRC, added before (or around) the LGPL was
> introduced.  As long as they only used GPL with exception code (based on
> library symbols, I they did), there isn't really anything you can object
> to (unless you also object to using LGPL'd code ;-).

Well, I disagree on that point. In my mind, the key words in the
exception are 'an executable'. At the time the exception was added,
many people believed that free OS's were the way of the future, but we
would still be using large numbers of closed-source, shrink-wrapped
apps. The exception seems to have been intended to allow userspace
programs like StarOffice to initiate scanning. This is different from
linking SANE to a library, even if that library acts as a SANE
backend. I think it is a stretch to call Brother's usage in a backend
'an executable'. Yes, a library contains executable code, but it
cannot be started from the command line without a front-end.

> Personally, I wished that more of the sane-backends code is GPL, making
> it harder for folks to take what we share without sharing back.

I also wish we could change it, but it is too late. There have been
too many authors over too many years. There is a good chance that a
few of the authors have died. It would be very difficult to identify
entire files which could have their license changed.

When I added sanei_magic, I seriously debated making it GPL. But, I
decided that I could not find a way to convert my backends (which
needed to use it) to the GPL as well.

"well, I stand up next to a mountain- and I chop it down with the edge
of my hand"

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