Retain GPL 2 for Koha 3.4 - Advocacy

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This page is reserved only for advocacy of GPL 2, invoked with an or later version option, for Koha 3.4 as part of a ballot process on the question of upgrading the Koha copyright license. Please use the Koha GPL 2 option wiki page or the Koha mailing list for open comment.


Retain the GNU General Public License version 2 (GPL 2), invoked with an or later version option, as the copyright license for Koha 3.4 - advocacy

GPL 2 Text

See GNU General Public License version 2 (GPL 2) from the Free Software Foundation (FSF) for the full text of the license.


It has been around much longer (20 years instead of only 4), more users and developers know it already than any other license in this ballot and it's about half the size of GPL-3:

lines words chars
  339  2968 17987 /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL-2
  676  5644 35068 /usr/share/common-licenses/GPL-3

That means half as much licence text for new users and developers to read, saving a huge chunk of community time which is better spent improving Koha, participating in the community or simply making library catalogues better!

Cheaper and Easier Compliance

We already use this licence, a lot of good clean-up work has been done to bring us closer to best-practice compliance, while the other options have lawyers saying troubling phrases like "I'm not sure the community has come to a consensus on it, nor am I aware of any definitive statement on the limits of this requirement by an authoritative source such as the FSF. I think you are right to read it fairly expansively, and that including the source for required Perl modules is a good plan." (under "AVOIDING AGPL 3 VIOLATIONS" in [this koha discussion])

Depending on how that uncertainty is resolved, an AGPL-3 Koha may have to offer downloads of the source code for all Perl modules used; and owners of servers that run Koha may need to buy contracted service from git hosting providers (the hypothetical token-fee services do not exist: cheapest github is US$7/month and gitorious US$99/month) or accept an unlimited download cost liability.

Compare that to retaining "GPL 2 or later" which costs us nothing extra.

Easier with Greater Compatibility

There is currently no code that we want to integrate which requires a change of licence. While we use "GPL 2 or later", we are keeping our options open: this is the only choice which is allows us to choose either "GPL 2" and "GPL 3 or later" at some point in the future, when there is code that we want to integrate which requires a licensing change.

Let's keep our options open: vote "GPL 2 or later" as your preferred option.

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