[thelist] Database Licensing Question

Alex Farran alex at alexfarran.com
Tue Dec 21 04:05:57 CST 2004

Burhan Khalid writes:

> Hello All:
>    I'm going to be writing an application that will be using a
> database to store some information and print reports.  The application
> will be closed source, and its for sale to a client.

>    Now, the issue is with the database backend that I will use.
> MySQL, if I read the licensing page correctly, will require me to
> purchase a commercial license because the product is closed source.

They want you to read it that way, but their interpretation of the GPL
is a bit of a stretch.  They are saying that your database backend +
MySQL constitutes a derived work.  Most people would consider that a
collected work, or in the words of the GPL "a mere aggregation".
Think of Linux distributions - the kernel is licensed under the GPL,
but you can run whatever software you like on it.

It's quite a fine line, and depends a lot on how the owner of the GPL
code interprets the license.  Here's what you can do:

1. Open source your software.  If it's a custom job for this client,
   why not?
2. Use PostgreSQL which is licensed under the BSD license.
3. Use only standard SQL so your software is not dependent on any
   particular database implementation.  If it runs on any database
   implementing a standard SQL interface, how can it be a derived work
   of any of them?


    __o    Alex Farran - Open source software specialist 
  _`\<,_   PHP | MySQL | E-Commerce | Content Management
 (_)/ (_)  www.alexfarran.com  
           phone:01273 474065  mobile:07790 389330

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