[kwlug-disc] MySQL vs. PostGres license differences?

Chris Irwin chris at chrisirwin.ca
Sat Mar 6 00:54:02 EST 2010

On Fri, 2010-03-05 at 22:09 -0500, Khalid Baheyeldin wrote:
> This is exactly what MySQL did with dual licensing: in order to avoid
> having the GPL apply to your software that is not GPL, you go buy a
> license from them to distribute proprietary applications.
> That is how they made their money. For others who are interfacing free
> software to MySQL (e.g. LAMP, ...etc.), the GPL version is fine.

If I recall, I believe there was a bit of resentment around that
licensing choice. They provide GPL client libraries that must be linked
against to access the server. Link against those GPL libraries and you
fall into the derivative work zone. I think that in 2010 that is pretty
well understood by everybody.

But apparently they went as far as claiming the protocol itself was
covered under the GPL[1]. In the case of simply communicating you become
a derivative work as their interpretation of the GPL applied to the
protocol. I'm sure the Samba guys would have something interesting to
say here.

You should still be able to pull an nvidia and have a GPL wrapper
implementing an interface, and have your code connect, rather than link,
with that module. It seems there are a few third-party mysql connectors
around that do just that for various different licenses (BSD, LGPL).
They simply implement the mysql communication protocol, and have no need
to actually link or consume any mysql libraries.

A quick read through the mysql "Foss license exception list" [2] and a
few FAQs seem to talk about "distribution" with a program of different
licensing. So it may be that MySQL/Sun/Oracle consider simple
distribution itself to be sufficient need to require a license,
regardless of any potential linking issues. Ouch. They're probably
banking on the "License fee is less than ongoing legal advice" angle (of
which I am not giving, by the way)

1. http://krow.livejournal.com/684068.html?thread=2670116

2. http://www.mysql.com/about/legal/licensing/foss-exception/

Chris Irwin
e:  chris at chrisirwin.ca
w: http://chrisirwin.ca
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