[kde-community] Repeating concers regarding the KDE Free Qt Foundation

Olaf Schmidt-Wischhöfer ojschmidt at kde.org
Fri Aug 30 17:17:36 UTC 2013

Hi Jaroslaw,

thanks for forwarding these comments.

As a board member of the KDE Free Qt Foundation, I will give some quick 
answers here while I consider how to communicate these facts to the wider 
public. Please feel free to quote my answer, or to link to this email in a 
mailing list archive.

1. The KDE Free Qt Foundation aims to protect all developers using the Free 
Software called Qt. The contracts are therefore not limited to KDE. As one of 
the largest volunteer-driven Free Software communities, KDE is well placed to 
be the stewards of the interests of Free Software developers in general.

2. The LGPL licence of all current Qt releases allows use in both proprietary 
and Free Software applications and contains to platform-specific restrictions. 
This licence grant cannot be retroactively taken away by Digia. In addition, 
the KDE Free Qt Foundation can also relicense Qt under a different open source 
licence (such as BSD) for general, even more permissive use. The Foundation 
agreed not do so as long as Digia continues to release Qt as LGPL and with 
support for at least desktop Linux and Android (“Qt Free Edition”).

3. The contract with Nokia and Digia covers desktop Linux (X11, Wayland can be 
easily added in the future). Digia has signed a second agreement which also 
includes Android (Necessitas) and is identical to the first agreement in all 
other aspects. Both agreements prohibit Digia from releasing a sub-standard 
version of Qt as “Qt Free Edition”. In other words: The desktop Linux version 
cannot be incomplete compared to the Windows and Mac versions, and the Android 
version cannot be incomplete compared to the other mobile platforms.

4. The differences between the various platforms have massively decreased 
during the last years. The same codebase is used for the various platforms, 
with minimal platform-specific code paths. This makes it more easy for third 
parties to provide support for platforms not officially included in Digia’s LGPL 
releases. We have opened discussions on whether to include the Windows and 
MacOS platforms (first with Nokia, then with Digia), but we have not reached 
any decisions yet given the legals pitfalls caused by the proprietary nature 
of these platforms. For example, we do not know whether Microsoft or Apple 
will prohibit or punish the development of LGPL-licensed libraries for their 
platforms (cf. AppStore rules). Please feel free to contact me if you have 
thoughts on this topic.

The legal framework of the KDE Free Qt Foundation is now more than 15 years 
old (see http://kde.org/community/whatiskde/kdefreeqtfoundation.php).
During this time, Trolltech was bought by Nokia, and Nokia sold Qt to Digia. 
We had anticipated such contingencies and included very strong legal language 
in the agreement and managed to ensure the continued validity of the 
protection in all such cases. In addition to protecting Free Software users of 
Qt, we have also accompanied various positive evolutions (relicensing to LGPL, 
inclusion of the Android platform, and especially the open governance of the 
Qt Project).

I invite developers using (or potential using) Qt to contact me with comments, 
doubts, questions or constructive feedback on our work.

Best regards,

Olaf Schmidt-Wischhöfer

Am Mittwoch, 28. August 2013, 21:13:04 schrieb Jaroslaw Staniek:
> Hi,
> By accident or not, very the same week I noticed concerns (probably
> from the other camp) on reddit [1] and phoronix [2] about the KDE Free
> Qt Foundation. If I understood what these comments about 'killing
> freedom' mean (after removing some trolling layers) more or less they
> relate to:
> - Exclusiveness of the Qt Free Edition for X11 (so what about mobile
> Qt? Casual reader would think there are separate codebases for
> different Qt targets)
> - Exclusiveness of the protection to KDE (may be a misconception that
> the foundation equals KDE? BSD or other licenses are not KDE-exclusive
> otherwise wouldn't be approved by OSI)
> I'd like to ask about comments, explanation, especially that these
> comments stay not answered.
> [1]
> https://pay.reddit.com/r/linux/comments/1l4t3v/can_we_have_a_gtk_vs_qt_mast
> er_thread/cbw64lu [2]
> http://phoronix.com/forums/showthread.php?83848-Digia-Looking-At-Windows-Wi
> nRT-Support-In-Qt-5-2&p=353827#post353827

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