[racket] Clarification on licensing of Racket code?...

From: Neil Van Dyke (neil at neilvandyke.org)
Date: Sun Apr 8 08:07:05 EDT 2012

Rüdiger, first, I sympathize with some of your points about changes in 
the industry.  I was a professional developer starting over 20 years ago 
(I started young), including working at a developer of software 
development tools and equipment (e.g., ICEs) for critical embedded 
systems.  I won't go into all the pros and cons of open source, and will 
simply acknowledge that "socializing" software development has indeed 
eliminated some commercial product markets (while enabling others).  
Regardless, if one is thinking in practical self-interest, as commercial 
enterprises tend to do, one often must use open source software to be 
competitive, like you said.

Regarding licenses, for example, if your company were to build an 
embedded product upon some commercial platform, probably the company 
would sign a license agreement only after review by corporate counsel.  
Similarly, before building Racket into a million units, you'd want to 
have that same corporate counsel review Racket's license.  At point of 
review, your counsel might already be familiar with open source and 
could rubber-stamp an LGPL license in a few minutes (and round up to a 
billable hour).  It's conceivable that your counsel would want 
clarification on some nuance of the license, and then you can then 
approach PLT, Inc. with a clear question, and go from there.  I don't 
see this as too different from securing a commercial license agreement.

I understand that embedded systems are especially tricky.  A lot of 
people doing contemporary server-side development, on the other hand, 
typically already have hundreds of LGPL/BSD/etc.-licensed libraries, 
programs, and OS installed on each of their production servers, so 
Racket's LGPL 2.1 license needs hardly a glance.

If you are concerned about the market for high-skilled developers 
eroding (at the same time as much of the rest of Western economies get 
ripped apart), there are worse things you can do than to embrace the 
market changes and advanced technologies, by using Racket helping to 
create jobs for more high-skilled Racket developers.  (Full disclosure: 
I'm a consultant who prefers to work on Racket-related projects, so the 
more people using Racket, the better for me.)

Neil V.


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