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[tlug] Agg pick up [ was: Fwd: Questions about opensource license

Hi tlug,

This was a private discussion between Stephen and me about some legal
problem in forking, relicensing a stalled one-man open source project.

Feel free to comment if you have any.

Forwarded conversation
Subject: Questions about opensource license

From: Hung Nguyen Vu <>
Date: 2008/8/20
To: "" <>


I am sorry for emailing you off-list but I think I need your advice.

Situation: agg[1] project stalled for 2 years. I'ved tried to contact him
but he haven't replied. Then I proposed a fork in agg mailing list[2].
Agg users seem to be happy and agree with my proposal.

Agg(2.4) license: It is dual license[3]:

1. Anti-Grain Geometry Public License
2. Modified BSD License

I think should should pick one ONE of them and continue to maintain the code.

I have no idea how to deal with this license issue when someone mentioned it[4]
So I ask you.

a. Which license is better
b. Which license gives more freedom?
c. Can I use Public Lcense but remove all McSeem's name in the license
in the fork?
d. Or can I add another license on top of AGG public license?
  By "add another license on top" I mean, write another license, like
  "Copyright by agg-forked-foobar group"


Best Regards,
Nguyen Hung Vu ( Nguyễn Vũ Hưng )
vuhung16plus{remove} , YIM: vuhung16 , Skype: vuhung16dg
Japan through an eye of a gaijin:

From: Stephen J. Turnbull <>
Date: 2008/8/25
To: Hung Nguyen Vu <>

No problem, thanks for writing.  I'm always happy to help.  Although
in this case you might very well want to post to the list so other
people can get the benefit.  Sorry for the delay, by the way, I've
just moved back to Tsukuba from California and have been away from my

I suggest you invest in Larry Rosen's book, Open Source Licensing (or
similar title, make sure it's Larry Rosen; O'Reilly has abook with
similar title but it's definitely inferior).
I agree.  See below.

I'm very conservative in the following recommendation.  I'm not sure
what your goals are for this license.
With these licenses, you have no problem at all, except which to choose.
The modified BSD license is better.  The lawyerese is imposing, but
with respect to the code it is the same as the AGG 2.4 license, except
for the wording of the copyright notice that must be included.  The
BSD license protects the authors better, both from liability and from
abuse of their names in advertising.  The BSD license is well-known to
have the above properties, so people who care about licensing will not
be put off by the lawyerese.
They are equally free.
I'm not sure what you are asking, but the copyright notice must be
preserved exactly.  You cannot change any of the words, even.

However, you *can* remove all but one of the licenses, and distribute
only under the license you choose.
You cannot add a copyright notice until you've added content.  Once
you've added content, you may add a copyright notice.  This is
completely separate from the licensing issue.  The copyright notice
must refer to a real person, either a human being or a corporation,
not to a random collection of mailboxes on the internet.  (You can do
what you want, but you will have a harder time if you ever decide to
enforce, and you open yourself to liability from the real authors
unless there's an actual transfer of ownership.)

Because the BSD license is so permissive, most people believe[1] you can
actually do

All rights reserved, pay Nguyen Vu Hung or else!!

This program is derived from code distributed under the following

Copyright 2002-2005 McSeem

[AGG 2.4 permission text goes here]

Of course, you can't do anything if somebody goes and gets McSeem's
code, and you've just told them it exists.  But if you can prove they
copied code distributed by you, including the notice above but
otherwise unchanged, you could at least force them to stop using that
copy, as paradoxical as it seems.

If you are only interested in the best license giving maximum
permission while protecting the authors from liability and giving them
credit for their work, there's no reason to change.

BTW, are you sure there are no desirable additions in AGG 2.5?

Feel free to ask other questions, if I misunderstand your intent.  I
may take a few days to answer, though.

[1]  It doesn't explicitly permit sublicensing, but it doesn't forbid,
and the wording seems to suggest that additional conditions may be
added, which == sublicensing.

From: Hung Nguyen Vu <>
Date: 2008/8/25
To: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <>

Welcome back to Japan!

Did you mean I'd better post this to TLUG ML?( or agg ML?)
Do you mean this book?
It is available online, but it doesn't write on MIT or BSD license.
My goal is to give agg's user the maximum freedom. That's why I took
agg 2.4( modified BSD) instead of
agg 2.5( GPL).

I've stepped out as the next maintainer of agg.
Personally, I only want to patch agg 2.4 if there are any patches committed.
In the near future, if there is no volunteers, no new feature will be added.
I think I will need another small research on BSD, modified BSD.

But we can't turn agg 2.4 from modified BSD back to BSD right?

And we can't turn it back to Public Domain?
By "Public License", I mean " Anti-Grain Geometry Public License".
But you said two licenses in 2.4 are the same, i.e " Anti-Grain
Geometry Public License"
is equivalent to modified  BSD, therefore, I can't remove McSeem's
name from the license.
I understand point point. The upcoming patches( if there are any) belong to
the persons who commit it. So basically, they are not mind but the community.

I can put the the names the contributers into AUTHORS, or ChangeLog,
and leave agg 2.4's license the same.

Someone[11] has proposed creating a Project Steering Committee[12] (PSC).
In this way, we can vote. IMO, a PSC is good if the project is big enough,
but for the current goal: only bugfix, then the PSC model might not
fit the situation.
In the future, if agg becomes bigger, we can make a PSC.
Interesting. I never thought of that.
The solutions are using AUTHORS and ChangeLog as I mentioned to.
In fact, agg 2.4 contains GPC code[13], which is non commercial license,
so actually agg-2.4 is licensed under 2 different licenses.

There is a way to "configure" and compile agg so that it does not
contain gpc code
( and therefore, MIT is the only license). In this way, agg 2.4 will
be a free software
( by FSF's definition ) and agg's license will be only one, and less

There are some Window-ish users resist from my proposal.
They cried: I want gpc code there to play around.
Such people has no idea about MIT, BSD, GPL.
The license of agg 2.5 is GPL and as you know, GPL is not a license
for a library
like agg, and GPL is poisonous.

The code in agg 2.4 and 2.5 are the same.

I want to give agg users the maximum freedom so 2.5 is not the choice.

I do and I will do :)
You can take a look at this GraphicsMagick's license page[14],
basically, the license is modified BSD but it is very complex and confusing.


Best Regards,
Nguyen Hung Vu ( Nguyễn Vũ Hưng )
vuhung16plus{remove} , YIM: vuhung16 , Skype: vuhung16dg
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