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aerc may effectively be GPL3.0-or-later licensed

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I noticed while packaging notmuch for GNU Guix <https://guix.gnu.org> that aerc depends on GPL-3.0-or-later software (notmuch and go-notmuch.) If my suspicion is correct, aerc is effectively GPL-3.0-or-later because the GPL propagates to any software that incorporates GPL-licensed software. Someone on #guix half-confirmed this (they said they were pretty sure I was right, but not certain.)

(Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor even good at licensing things.)

This means that at commit 2485d509838013351672db50b2cb57880b7c3e1c ("add github.com/zenhack/go.notmuch"), aerc was effectively made GPL without anyone giving permission for their code to be relicensed. I suspect nobody would _really_ care about that, but the LICENSE file should probably be changed to reflect that aerc is actually GPLed. I do not, however, know whether this would require asking everyone who ever contributed (since it is already GPL, this would just be acknowledging it.)

I may be wrong about all this. Thoughts, anyone?
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Hi,

paren, Jun 03, 2022 at 10:04:
> I noticed while packaging notmuch for GNU Guix <https://guix.gnu.org>
> that aerc depends on GPL-3.0-or-later software (notmuch and
> go-notmuch.) If my suspicion is correct, aerc is effectively
> GPL-3.0-or-later because the GPL propagates to any software that
> incorporates GPL-licensed software. Someone on #guix half-confirmed
> this (they said they were pretty sure I was right, but not certain.)
>
> (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor even good at licensing things.)
>
> This means that at commit 2485d509838013351672db50b2cb57880b7c3e1c
> ("add github.com/zenhack/go.notmuch"), aerc was effectively made GPL
> without anyone giving permission for their code to be relicensed.
>
> I suspect nobody would _really_ care about that, but the LICENSE file
> should probably be changed to reflect that aerc is actually GPLed.
> I do not, however, know whether this would require asking everyone who
> ever contributed (since it is already GPL, this would just be
> acknowledging it.)
>
> I may be wrong about all this. Thoughts, anyone?

Thanks for bringing this up. This is probably an oversight that happened
when adding notmuch support. I know a lot of users actually compile aerc
from source without the notmuch backend (myself included).

Adding Drew and the legacy mailing list to the thread. Maybe someone can
shine a light on this.

Cheers,

-- 
Robin
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On Fri Jun 3, 2022 at 10:04 AM CEST,  wrote:
> I noticed while packaging notmuch for GNU Guix <https://guix.gnu.org> that aerc depends on GPL-3.0-or-later software (notmuch and go-notmuch.) If my suspicion is correct, aerc is effectively GPL-3.0-or-later because the GPL propagates to any software that incorporates GPL-licensed software. Someone on #guix half-confirmed this (they said they were pretty sure I was right, but not certain.)

Now for a harder question: does this also apply when it's conditionally?
As Robin mentioned, aerc can be compiled without notmuch being included.
Does this mean aerc with notmuch is GPL and without is MIT?

Licensing is really it's own special hell.

> (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor even good at licensing things.)
>
> This means that at commit 2485d509838013351672db50b2cb57880b7c3e1c ("add github.com/zenhack/go.notmuch"), aerc was effectively made GPL without anyone giving permission for their code to be relicensed. I suspect nobody would _really_ care about that, but the LICENSE file should probably be changed to reflect that aerc is actually GPLed. I do not, however, know whether this would require asking everyone who ever contributed (since it is already GPL, this would just be acknowledging it.)

I'd be curious if this would even be possible. I kinda doubt it. In that
way aerc would simply be in violation of the GPL. (except the above
exception is a thing in which case it kinda isnt?)

--
Moritz Poldrack
https://moritz.sh
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In essence, the result is that aerc work is licensed under MIT or GPL at
the user's choice, and the combined work is GPL'd.
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Drew DeVault, Jun 03, 2022 at 12:52:
> In essence, the result is that aerc work is licensed under MIT or GPL at
> the user's choice, and the combined work is GPL'd.

That makes sense.

I am not sure if/how we should mention this explicitly in aerc's LICENSE
and/or README files?

Also, what about distro packages?
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On Fri Jun 3, 2022 at 1:13 PM CEST, Robin Jarry wrote:
> I am not sure if/how we should mention this explicitly in aerc's LICENSE
> and/or README files?

Yeah, seems fine.

> Also, what about distro packages?

The distro should use the appropriate license, either MIT or GPL for
aerc without notmuch, or GPL for aerc with notmuch.
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Drew DeVault, Jun 03, 2022 at 13:15:
> The distro should use the appropriate license, either MIT or GPL for
> aerc without notmuch, or GPL for aerc with notmuch.

I will fix Debian packaging accordingly then.
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Ah, I missed the part in the readme where it said that notmuch was optional. (In other news, my Guix package
works, and I will soon be sending it to upstream. Thanks for aerc!)
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