[License-discuss] Open source license and non disclosure agreement

Quentin Lefebvre quentin.lefebvre at inria.fr
Thu Oct 3 13:59:38 UTC 2013

First of all, and to be completely clear about this, our point is not to 
make money with our project...

Let's start from another point of view.
On http://qt-project.org/downloads , we can read :
"Qt is available under GPL v3, LGPL v2 and a commercial license".

Can we investigate this approach a bit further...
Indeed, it may be a good one for us. We may make our source code 
available to the public through a LGPL license, with a way to work with 
companies through a more conservative license.

But how does it work in practice ?
What does prevent a company to simply take the LGPL license ?


Le 03/10/2013 14:26, Richard Fontana a écrit :
> On Thu, 03 Oct 2013 10:54:41 +0200
> Quentin Lefebvre <quentin.lefebvre at inria.fr> wrote:
>> Currently working on an open source project, we are looking for an
>> appropriate license for it.
>> We would like something that allows us to work with people in a way
>> such that :
>>    - we can be informed of modifications of our program by developers,
> Unless such a requirement were sufficiently narrowly tailored it would
> IMO make a license not open source. Certainly no mainstream
> OSI-approved license contains anything like such a requirement.
>>    - we can have "our word to say" about redistribution of modified
>> code (i.e. we would like to be able to explicitly authorize people to
>> share the modified code).
> That would obviously make the license not open source.
>> There is something in the GNU (L)GPL in article 2 that looks like
>> what we want, but this 2nd article is not so obvious and seems in
>> contradiction with others. Here is what is said :
> To clarify, this is from GPLv3, section 2.
Indeed, clarity is important, thanks.
>> "You may convey covered works to others *for the sole purpose of
>> having them make modifications exclusively for you*, or provide you
>> with facilities for running those works, provided that you comply
>> with the terms of this License in conveying all material for which
>> you do not control copyright. Those thus making or running the
>> covered works for you must do so exclusively on your behalf, under
>> your direction and control, *on terms that prohibit them from making
>> any copies of your copyrighted material outside their relationship
>> with you*."
> I believe you may be misunderstanding the point of this provision. It
> is intended to carve out of the normal copyleft requirements the
> situation where a company gives some software to an off-site contractor
> for development or datacenter operations, in circumstances that might
> otherwise be argued to be distribution to a third party in the GPLv2
> sense. Anyway, this is not what you want.

I may be still misunderstanding the point, but why isn't it what we want ?
Don't we own a copyright on the software (as authors), even under LGPL ?
To me, this point means that we can sign some agreement with a company 
in order to "control" its work and limit redistribution (of the modified 
work) to third parties.

>> But in GNU GPL's FAQ, here is what we found :
>> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.en.html#DoesTheGPLAllowNDA ,
>> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.en.html#DoesTheGPLAllowModNDA ,
>> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.en.html#DevelopChangesUnderNDA .

What about this third link ? If someone can accept a contract, why 
wouldn't we be able to sign such contracts with developpers or companies 
(or students we teach), so that we can review their contribution prior 
to making it available to the public ?

> Your goals appear to be essentially in total contradiction with open
> source software.

This is a shame and we shall reconsider these goals to go in a better 

Anyway, thanks for your answers and your time.
My ideas may be little messed up by all the terms of licenses I read. 
Hopelessly we have no lawyer...

Best regards,
Quentin Lefebvre

More information about the License-discuss mailing list