[Samba] libsmbclient licensing

simo idra at samba.org
Fri May 28 08:31:05 MDT 2010

On Fri, 2010-05-28 at 14:07 +0400, Andrew Marinchuk wrote:
> Dear Samba team,
> We have developed cross-platform multiprotocol intranet file searcher 
> and it includes the module (SMB scanner for *nix) which uses 
> libsmbclient to enumerate all files on smb shares ("uses" means 
> including headers and linking with library). Other modules also use some 
> external libraries, but all other libraries have LGPL license.
> We prefer to publish our searcher's code under BSD license, but 
> GPL-license of libsmbclient forces us to use GPL. According to our local 
> laws, such GPL requirements are invalid, also we don't see why client 
> library does not use LGPL, however if libsmbclient license will never be 
> licensed under LGPL, we will use double licensing scheme (although this 
> is not what we want).
> Are there a chance that libsmbclient will be licensed under LGPL? Or 
> could someone give use permission to link libsmbclient with BSD code?
> Thanks in advance!


allegations that GPL provisions are invalid in Russia are just a myth,
as far as I know. The GPL is perfectly enforceable in Russia like in any
other country that signed the Berne Convention.

First and foremost, I am not a lawyer and I am not giving you legal
advice. If you want a definitive answer you should ask your lawyers and
eventually have them contact our lawyers at the SFC (Software Freedom
Conservancy). You can ask me in private if you need further details on
how and who to contact.

That aside, let's come to the licensing of your application.

Anything I say here is purposefully vague because I have *not* seen your
application code so I don't know any specifics, I am trusting the vague
description you made.

The GPL requires the whole work to be released under the terms of the
GPL, but has no requirements to make you *change* the license for all
the code you independently developed (non derivative). I guess you can
release most of your source code under BSD.

If you distribute binaries with libsmbclient compiled in, then yes,
those binaries will need to be released under the GPL.

If your application is modular enough to be compiled w/o libsmbclient
support I guess you can also offer 2 versions (one with the lib and one
w/o) and have 2 different licenses for those binaries.

I suggest you really contact your lawyers to understand exactly what are
the boundaries and how the GPL interacts with other parts of your
application licensing-wise.

The Samba Team has so far distributed libsmbclient as a GPL library, we
know it can be annoying at times but so far we haven't seen the need to
weaken the license. Unless there is a strong reason, release under
weaker licenses is not likely.


NOTE: If you are writing on behalf of an Open Source project not backed
by a for profit company and don't have access to a lawyer, please
contact me off-list and we can see what legal advice the SFC can give us
to help you out.

Simo Sorce
Samba Team GPL Compliance Officer <simo at samba.org>
Principal Software Engineer at Red Hat, Inc. <simo at redhat.com>

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