[quagga-dev 12207] Re: Babel differences (was Re: [PATCH 2/2] HACKING: Quagga is a GPL project)

Martin Winter mwinter at opensourcerouting.org
Thu Apr 30 07:50:13 BST 2015

On Apr 29, 2015, at 4:09 AM, Paul Jakma <paul at jakma.org> wrote:

> On Wed, 29 Apr 2015, Paul Jakma wrote:
>> that babeld/ derives from libzebra. More recently I have had informal legal advice that re-iterates that at least some of the files in babeld/ must have GPL notices, e.g. files such as babel_zebra.c.
> Oh, that answer was in the context of "Is it safe for Quagga to distribute this with only an MIT/X11 licence notice or should it have a GPL notice too?" as the question.

Unfortunately, this seems to be not that clear cut. 

The first question is if this forces Babel (as the source) under GPL. And there is where we got different legal advice. I’m not saying that the legal advice from the past ws wrong, but that the lawyers seem to disagree. It's’s sad if even lawyers disagree. But they if they would agree they would put themselves out of business…
(The 2nd question would then be if babel needs a GPL notice as well)

Please keep in mind that this is about the source distributions. Binaries with babel will be clearly under GPL (at least I think everyone agrees here)

Background on the GPL issue here: 

One view (which Paul mentioned) is that there are some files in babel which use libzebra. As libzebra is GPL, this would make babel (or at least part of it) GPL as well.
Or in short, it makes it a derivate.

The opposing view is based that there is a babel which can be run outside Quagga (the standalone version) and the connections to libzebra are only there to make it interoperate with quagga. Some lawyers argue that this would not qualify for making it a derivate. API connections like these to just make things interoperate are excluded.

Personally, I have no clue who is right and even the lawyers seem to disagree. Currently it seems it depends on whose lawyer you trust.

So the challenge is on how to pick a lawyer to trust or how to get lawyers to agree (Maybe some of the question to the lawyer were not clear enough and that’s why there were different answers?)


- Martin Winter

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