SQL-Ledger licensing controversy

Slashdot is reporting that popular free software accounting package SQL-Ledger recently secretly changed their licence from the GPL to the SQL-Ledger Open Source Licence. The project leader did this without notifying anyone on the project.

Users of the popular accounting package SQL-Ledger were being kept in the dark about a recent license change. Two weeks ago a new version of the software was released but along with it came the silent change of license from GPLv2 to the 'SQL-Ledger Open Source License' — presumably in an effort to prevent future forks like LedgerSMB. As it turns out, the author was making deliberate attempts to prevent the community from finding out about the license change. No posts to the SQL-Ledger mailing lists asking about the license change were getting past moderation and direct questions to the author were going unanswered. Just recently the license was switched back to GPLv2. This behavior is not a first for this particular project, and is part of the reason for the original LedgerSMB fork. Does a project maintainer have an ethical obligation to notify his or her community of a license change? What about a legal obligation?

It is being presumed that the reason for the licence change was to try to avoid forks of the code (for the uninitiated - a fork is where a project's code is taken by one set of developers and they split up from the main branch and do their own thing with the code). The licence has now been changed back to the GPL, but it raises questions about whether this is an ethical, or even a legal move.

Avatar for peter Peter Upfold - http://peter.upfold.org.uk/

Peter Upfold is a technology enthusiast from the UK. Peter’s interest in Linux stems back to 2003, when curiosity got the better of him and he began using SUSE 9.0. Now he runs Linux Mint 9 on the desktop, runs a CentOS-based web server from home for his personal website and dabbles in all sorts of technology things across the Windows, Mac and open source worlds.

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