[jvr-general] LGPL and Java: Not viral

Kevin O'Donnell kevino at jerboa.ca
Fri Jul 2 09:59:52 CDT 2004

Phew!  There's nothing like a good OSS license debate to make me 
grateful I'm not a lawyer. :)

I found this post to the debian-legal mailing list from Dave Turner 
where he states that the original Slashdot article that started the ball 
rolling on the LGPL and Java issue was largely a misunderstanding.


For myself, I am comfortable that the LGPL can be used for JVR and still 
allow another work to be distributed under other licenses.  Since in 
"object" form JVR is really just two files (jvr.jar and 
jvr.dll/libjvr.so) you can include in your work three things:

    * jvr.jar and the native library for the intended platform.
    * jvr-X-Y.zip - the original download of JVR so that the source for
      JVR, the LGPL licenses, etc are included.
    * Comply with various other LGPL requirements that are not specific
      to source code (Copyright statements, etc).

Specifically 6(b) is what makes the LGPL and Java work:*

    *b)* Use a suitable shared library mechanism for linking with the
    Library. A suitable mechanism is one that (1) uses at run time a
    copy of the library already present on the user's computer system,
    rather than copying library functions into the executable, and (2)
    will operate properly with a modified version of the library, if the
    user installs one, as long as the modified version is
    interface-compatible with the version that the work was made with.

Hypothetically if you put JVR in c:\jvr then it is "already present on 
the user's computer".  I would consider that the same as 
c:\yourapplication\lib\ext\jvr.  As for (2) that basically means that 
your work will still function if the JVR libraries are replaced with 
newer versions.

Any classes that you write would go in your own jar/dll/so files.  While 
they may contain some information derived from JVR that's what the LGPL 
provides for and you are not forced to license that work under the LGPL.

>I hope that wasn't too big of a push to go the way of Apache.  Thoughts?
:) Not at all - it forced me to finally do some research and come to a 
decision.  I'm still open to more debate if you think I've really missed 
something but hopefully the LGPL will work for you.  If so, let me know 
and I'll change the licensing and release JVR 0.5 under the LGPL.


Kevin O'Donnell
kevino at jerboa.ca
cell: 613.867.2620
 fax: 613.822.5215

More information about the jvr-general mailing list