[all][tc][legal] Possible GPL violation in several places

Jeremy Stanley fungi at yuggoth.org
Sat Mar 13 19:49:05 UTC 2021

On 2021-03-13 18:03:49 +0100 (+0100), Radosław Piliszek wrote:
> The main README suggests everything is GPL in there so I was
> confused. Perhaps this is what also confused the OP from
> Launchpad.

I suspect (though do not know for sure) that this is why the Ansible
maintainers have moved those files all into a separate directory
tree. I would not be surprised if they have plans to move them into
a separate repository in the future so as to provide even clearer
separation. Some of the copyright license situation in there was
murky a few years back, so I expect they're still working to improve
things in that regard.

> a purist may say that Ansible still "curses" such usage by GPL
> because, when you import in Python, you are actually executing the
> __init__s in the context of your software and those are licensed under
> GPL, especially the root one.

The way this is usually done is via a line like:

    from ansible.module_utils.basic import AnsibleModule

I don't believe that actually loads the GPL-licensed
ansible/__init__.py file, but I get a bit lost in the nuances of the
several different kinds of Python package namespaces. However (and
to reiterate, I'm no lawyer, this is not legal advice) what's
generally important to look at in these sorts of situations is
intent. Law is not like a computer program, and so strict literal
interpretations are quite frequently off-base. It's fairly clear the
Ansible authors intend for you to be able to import those scripts
from ansible.module_utils in more permissively-licensed programs, so
by doing that we're not acting counter to their wishes.

> I have missed it. Should we post there? It looks pretty abandoned
> (perhaps for a good reason ;-) ).

It's infrequently-used because such questions arise infrequently
(thankfully). If anyone feels we need to start the process of
soliciting an actual legal opinion on these matters though, we
should re-raise the topic there initially. But before doing that,
check the list archives to make sure we haven't already had this
discussion in prior years, and also do a bit of research to see
whether the Ansible project has already published documentation
about the intended license situation for the files you're concerned
Jeremy Stanley
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