You are receiving this email because our records suggest that you have
contributed to the NetSurf project (http://www.netsurf-browser.org
some way or other in the past.
NetSurf's licensing status is currently somewhat messy. Currently, we
state the following:
"Licensed under the GNU General Public License"
There are a number of problems with this:
1) There is no formal statement as to which version of the GPL NetSurf
is licensed under (although a copy of GPL version 2 is included in
2) It is unclear whether the end user has been granted the right to
relicense the software under future versions of the GPL (i.e. whether
the common "...or (at your option) any later version." wording from
the standard GPL boilerplate applies), We do not use the standard GPL
boilerplate within the source code.
3) In order to provide HTTPS support, NetSurf is linked against OpenSSL.
The OpenSSL licence is incompatible with the GPL. See
for more details on
4) The translatable Messages files, window templates and documentation
have no explicit licensing information.
5) There is no explicit licensing of related artwork.
Given the above, I propose the following:
1) Formalise GPL version 2 as being the GPL version which NetSurf is
licensed under. This may be found at
2) Come to an agreement about whether to permit the user to relicense
the software under future GPL versions. For reference, GPL version 3
has been recently released. This may be found at
3) Include a specific exemption to permit linking against OpenSSL.
4) License the Messages files, window templates and documentation under
the GPL, as per proposals 1-3.
5) License supporting artwork under either the GPL (as per proposals 1-3)
or some less restrictive licence such as MIT
The rationale for the above is as follows:
+ There is a move to get the GTK version of NetSurf included in the
Debian package repository. To do this requires licensing clarity.
The lack of an exemption for linking against OpenSSL will result in
immediate rejection of a NetSurf package for Debian. See the top item
in the table on http://ftp-master.debian.org/REJECT-FAQ.html
details on this.
+ OpenSSL is not part of the base OS on RISC OS, either, so an
exemption is required on that platform also.
+ Licensing the documentation, window templates and Messages files in
the same way as the rest of the source code would be sensible. All
are directly related to the source code and are unlikely to be used
+ The source code is licensed under the GPL, so using the same licence
for the artwork avoids confusion. However, it is unclear as to what
the "preferred form of the work for making modifications to it" is in
this case. Additionally, it imposes constraints upon those using the
artwork (e.g. to illustrate articles on a website). They would have
to distribute the preferred source format for the artwork as well as
the version used for illustrative purposes, which seems an
unnecessary burden. It would, however, mean that any changes that are
made by third parties are available in the original format for others
Any other licence used for artwork would need to be GPL compatible
(else the artwork could not be distributed with the software). This
rules out any of the Creative Commons licences, or the Free Art
Licence, which would have been the obvious choices. Therefore, I have
proposed a simple attribution licence: MIT. [Important note:
"Software" does not imply "program", so it's perfectly
use this licence for artwork]
Please direct any replies you may have to the developers' mailing list --
It is important that replies are received from everyone as, without them,
the current situation will remain indefinitely (or until such time as the
contributions of non-respondents are removed -- obviously, we'd rather
this didn't happen). Therefore, please do respond at your earliest
On proposals 1, 2, and 3, I require replies from the following people, who
have contributed code to NetSurf:
On proposals 1, 2, 3, and 4, I require responses from the following
people, who have contributed Messages files and documentation:
Gerard van Katwijk
On proposal 5 (and 1-3, if applicable), I require responses from the
following people, who have contributed artwork: