Wireshark-dev: Re: [Wireshark-dev] The COPYING file (our license) is a mess!
From: Jaap Keuter <[email protected]>
Date: Wed, 14 Nov 2007 22:20:12 +0100

Looking at the history the main part was added by Gerald in revision 21806. Yes, it should be clear to anyone what the GPLv2 means but in real life you get some *stupid* questions on it. (I'm all for the view that there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers, but here I make the exception, #@&$%*[email protected] managers).
So even though I'm not happy with this stuff it seems to be needed to 
keep *stupid* people of our lists.

Joerg Mayer wrote:
One of the core reasons why the explanations were added was a rather
regular stream of questions regarding the use of Wireshark. It started
with me adding a section that emphasizes that libwireshark is covered
by the GPL, not LGPL. Later on other stuff was added and I think that
the amount of questions regarding the license has become noticably less
sind the last batch of additions by Gerald (IIRC).

On Sun, Nov 11, 2007 at 10:25:18PM +0100, Ulf Lamping wrote:
This fact should be obviously by anyone knowing the GPL (and anyone still don't know won't care) so why repeating it? Are there any restrictions beyond the usual GPL conditions?
 > Most parts of Wireshark are covered by a "GPL version 2 or later" 
 > Some files are covered by different licenses that are compatible with
 > the GPLv2.

What does this mean? Spread FUD?
No, it's just stating that some source files are not covered by the GPL
but by another license. As an alternative we could include all the
different licenses into COPYING. Ah, ok, maybe I should have mentioned
the fact that this was about source files. But then, I don't think that
the mib files are actually covered by the GPL, so I don't think it is
wrong with regards to the binary distribution either.

 > As a notable exception the pidl utility at tools/pidl is covered by a
 > "GPL version 3 or later" LICENSE. Note that only the tool itself
 > is covered by this license, not the source code generated by it. The
 > pidl authors do not consider that code a derived work of pidl.

Who should understand this?!?
Anyone who'd need/want to use pidl to create their own dissectors from
.idl files.

 > Parts of Wireshark can be built and distributed as libraries.  These
 > parts are still covered by the GPL, and NOT by the Lesser General Public
 > License or any other license.

Again, anyone who cares will be pretty much knowing it from the GPL - no need to repeat the license here.
There were some misunderstandings in the past.

 > If you create a combined work using all or part of Wireshark, then your
 > combined work must be released under a license compatible with the GPL.

That's just plain *wrong*. In addition what the author might had in mind, a combined work could be almost anything! From pressing it on a CD to make it available on a web collection. All this collection needs to be compatible with the GPL? I don't think so!
You are correct.

 > ...and don't get us started on trademarks.

What does this mean? Spread FUD?
No idea.

Unfortunately, this text spreads a lot FUD and it is redundant.
No, although some points may be incorrect, there is a reason for them to
be there.
IMHO, the GPLv2 is well understood today and needs no further 
explanations. IMHO instead of clarifying stuff, it makes understanding 
the License much more complicated to anyone outside the project.
This is just plain wrong! Many people still don't understand the GPLv2
and the clarifications seem to have helped to reduce license specific
All in all, IMO this license text drives away anyone who takes licensing seriously and anyone who don't cares won't be addressed. So what is the benefit in complicating the GPL here?
See above.