Licence question 3: GPL


This is not strictly a Panda3D question, but maybe you or your lawyers may know the answer, or have an opinion on this?

To what extent is the Panda3D licence compatible with GPL libraries? ie, if I want to link in a GPL library into Panda3D, to what extent is this possible?



I just answered this in the other thread:

Of course, the standard IANAL applies, and I’m sorry to say, trying to get an official answer for something like this out of the Disney legal department is pretty much impossible. But I think common sense generally prevails where the GPL is concerned.



Wellll… I wrote to GNU at about the time of this thread, and this is the reply:

Note sure what to make of that really.



I’m not sure either. That is certainly not the intention of our license; we intended to allow anyone to make any modifications they like. And looking over the license now, I don’t see anything that sounds like the restrictions he is describing.

Perhaps he is responding to this sentence:

We agree that is a silly requirement, and we hope to have this clause removed or altered in a future version of the license, but it takes quite a while to get the Disney lawyers to make changes to something of this nature. Still, even with that clause in place, you aren’t prevented from making any change whatsoever that you like; the clause only requires you to tell us what change you are making.

I guess that itself could be a point of objection; it could be considered an invasion of your privacy. No argument there. But it hardly seems to be equal to the Java Trap.

I will write to Mr. Stallman and ask for further elaboration on his objection.



Here is Richard Stallman’s response to my query:


David: what was Disney’s motivation for creating a custom license (as opposed to using an off-the-shelf license like the LGPL or the freeBSD license)? I feel that if I knew why they did that, I would better understand what the situation here is.


It’s mainly a question of corporate liability. Disney’s lawyers felt that none of the existing licenses did an adequate job of protecting the company from liability, should someone create a derivation of Panda3D that someone else felt offended enough to sue Disney over. Although it sounds nutty, in today’s world I can’t promise that it’s an inconceivable scenario.



Not nutty. Disney has deep pockets.

One of us should get in touch with the FSF legal team about GPL compatibility. I’m about to start my vacation proper, would you like to do it? Or should I, when I get back?


I’ll take over from here. We have some more issues to discuss about this license here.



Update: we have heard back from our lawyers about our most recent modification request to the license, and they are willing to adjust the phrase in contention here. More to come soon.



That sounds good! Although Im not too bothered either way, but if I did release anything commercial (not much chance of that atm!) Im sure you would love to see all my dodgy modifications to the ShowBase :wink:


A quick question here.

If I create a game using Panda3D, will I be able to sell it, let say, online?

Thank you!


Yes, no problem.


Any update on the status of this?


It’s still in progress. Our lawyers have indicated a willingness to remove the language in question from the license, but they have yet to draft us a new, officially-authorized version of the license that we can publish. It will get done eventually; it’s just slowly moving up in the stack of low-priority work on our laywers’ desks.



I hear ya :slight_smile:


Is there any news about this?

I noticed that your website claims that Panda3D is “free software”, but in fact it is not because of the clause in question. Perhaps the website means free as in gratis, but it’s misleading at best.

At the moment, I would like to use Panda3D to develop some educational software for my Ph.d., from what I’ve seen it looks like a very suitable piece of software, but I will go out of my way to to avoid using it as long as it is not free software.

I know from this forum thread that the Panda3D developers seem to want it to be free software, it would put my mind to rest if the license got changed.



We have an officially approved Panda3D license with the phrase “all modifications made to the Software are to be forwarded to Licensor at . . .” replaced with the phrase “major modifications that You make to the Software should be forwarded to Licensor at . . .”

Although this is an improvement, and seems to solve the problem since it removes the requirement to send changes back to Disney, we aren’t completely happy with the change, since we think the word “should” has no place in a legal document.

Clearly the word “should” has no legal meaning here; we think the lawyers were just trying to declare what the official channel for sending updates to us is, should you desire to send them. But we can communicate this information in other places, such as this forum, without requiring it to be written into the license.

We had sent it back again to have the entire phrase removed. However, our lawyers move very slowly on work like this, since this is the lowest-priority work they have (they consider this pro-bono work, since it doesn’t further Disney’s bottom line), and we’re getting a bit impatient.

We actually decided last week to post the latest version of the license, even with the questionable word “should”, while we continue to wait for the next version. We think this license at least solves the immediate problem, even if it is inelegant.

The new version should be up as soon as Josh gets a chance to post it. I imagine things are pretty busy for him this week.



Great, well, that’s good enough for me, the license problem is being taken care of.


I’m back in town. David - go ahead and mail me the new license, I’ll post it.