How the JINZ Licensing Fails

Cur­rent­ly, I am review­ing music soft­ware, for exam­ple, JNIZ. It allows […] to build and to har­mo­nize sev­er­al voic­es accord­ing to the rules of clas­si­cal har­mo­ny.” Although it is host­ed on Source­Forge, the JINZ Licens­ing fails: The license is ‘strange’. And by this, the author final­ly vio­lates the GPL. A para­mount exam­ple:

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Let’s start with the JNIZ license it self. Once upon a time it said((Jears ago, there was a site http://www, Mean­while, there exists only the Source­Forge repos­i­to­ry.)):

“Jniz is a free pro­pri­etary piece of soft­ware. It is for­bid­den to sell it. You do not have the right to sell, dis­trib­ute Jniz or use its sources under penal­ty of law. You will infringes on the Jniz staff prop­er­ty rights.”

Of course, each copy­right own­er — in this case, Bruno Grand­jean — pri­mar­i­ly has the right to pub­lish his work under any license he wish­es to use. But this right ter­mi­nates where the strong copy­left effect of the GPL starts to take effect:

If one loads down and exg­tracts the JNIZ pack­age, one finds unter ‘jniz/ressources/LilyPond/usr/bin’ [no typo!] some Lily­Pond files, which are explic­it­ly pub­lished under the GPL  — for exam­ple the file ‘’.

There­fore JNIZ func­tion­al­ly depends on Liy­ly­Pond code, it becomes a derivate work. Thus, JNIZ must also be dis­trib­uted under the terms of the GPL — which it cur­rent­ly is not. Hence, the cur­rent act of licens­ing JNIZ is ille­gal.

Today, I pub­lished a respec­tive com­ment on the project review page [3] and sent a sim­i­lar mes­sage to the author. I assume that he already wished to pub­lish his soft­ware as real open-source soft­ware and that he now indeed will do so. That would be a good solu­tion.

And in what way is this …

… part of the over­ar­ch­ing top­ic FOSS Com­pli­ance? For ful­fill­ing the require­ments of FOSS licens­es, we have to con­sid­er spe­cif­ic indi­vid­ual cas­es as well as side effects — for soft­ware, pic­tures, or doc­u­ments. We should unhide trends and write guide­lines. Above all, how­ev­er, we must dri­ve for­ward the automa­tion of license ful­fill­ment, make our licens­ing knowl­edge freely avail­able, cast it into small­er tools, and bring it into larg­er sys­tems: Because FOSS thrives on free­dom through license ful­fill­ment, large and small. That’s what also this arti­cle is about.

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