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        T H E   C O I N   L I C E N S I N G   F A Q 

        -1 .   S w i t c h    t o     B S D

        Coin is now licensed under the 3-clause BSD license (see
        COPYING). The remaining contents of this file is mostly
        interesting for historical reasons.

        0 .   G e n e r a l    q u e s t i o n s


Q 0.0:  Coin is under the GNU General Public License ("GPL").
        Can I use it in my proprietary, commercially sold application?

A:      No, the GNU GPL restricts the applications that can use Coin to
        have to be Free Software, and otherwise compatible with the GNU
        GPL.

        The distribution and availability of the Coin library under the
        GNU GPL is primarily meant to be a service for those who write
        other Free Software libraries or applications. If you write
        proprietary software and would like to use the Coin library, see
        the next question.


Q 0.1:  Is it possible to use the Coin library without the restrictions
        of the GNU GPL?

A:      Yes, as a service for those who would like to use the Coin library
        in proprietary software, we at Kongsberg Oil & Gas Technologies offer
        the "Coin Professional Edition License" which buys developers that are
        license holders the option to use the library with no strings
        attached.  The "Coin Professional Edition License" covers all the
        Coin libraries, unless otherwise specified.

        By "no strings attached", we of course mean that you as a
        software developer would not have to obey the restrictions of
        the GNU GPL, as you would use the Coin library under our
        "Professional Edition" license instead.

        The Coin Professional Edition License additionally covers
        other libraries in the "Coin family" for no extra cost,
        including all the GUI toolkits (SoQt, SoWin, SoGtk, SoXt,
        Sc21) and Kongsberg Oil & Gas Technologies's 3D file format libraries
        Dime and Profit.

        See <URL:http://www.coin3d.org> for more information about the
        details of these libraries.

        Prioritized support services is also part of the package -- your
        support requests will be sent straight to the top of the
        todo-stack of our developers. The developers used as first-tier
        support for our Coin Professional Edition License holders are
        the same people who have written all the sourcecode of the
        library in the first place, so you will be in very good hands.

        We take pride in giving our customers excellent support, and
        since the Coin libraries are what our developers love to work with,
        it's given with a smile.  :-)

        Oh, and one additional benefit from being a Coin Professional
        Edition License holder: you are allowed to cut'n'paste from our
        sourcecode and use it in your own applications without having to
        worry about licensing issues. This is for instance very
        convenient when writing extension components for Coin, like new
        nodes or action types.

        You may also cut'n'paste code from all our example programs in
        the same manner (these are also originally under the GNU GPL, by
        the way).


Q 0.2:  How can you sell a "Professional Edition License" when the
        library is released under the GNU GPL? Wouldn't that be
        disallowed by the GNU GPL?

A:      Kongsberg Oil & Gas Technologies can do this dual licensing "trick"
        with Coin because we are full copyright holders -- ie we own every
        single line of code written for the Coin library. Therefore we are
        able to license the Coin library both as Free Software aswell as
        under a special purpose license for proprietary software
        vendors. (If you are familiar with TrollTech's "Qt" library,
        they use the same strategy.)


Q 0.3:  What happens if I don't renew my Coin PEL? Can I still continue
        using Coin?

A:      Yes. You can continue development using the last version of
        Coin (or any earlier version, if you want) that was released 
        while you were a registered PEL holder. Version in this context
        means "release with a unique version number", so for instance 
        1.0.0 and 1.0.1 count as different versions. 

        Of course you are not allowed to use any version of Coin that
        was released after the expiry date, and you will not get any 
        more developer support.


Q 0.4:  Can't I just use the Coin Free Edition to develop my software
        in-house, and then get a PEL and switch to a non-Free license
        just before I release it?

A:      From a strictly legal point of view, this is possible. As 
        long as you do not release binaries, you do not need to
        release the source code either, so you can work on a piece of
        software under the terms of the GPL, and then re-license it
        before releasing it.

        We strongly discourage this approach, though, for several
        reasons. First, the Free Edition of Coin is intended for Free
        Software developers, and using it for proprietary development
        obviously is against this intention.

        Second, the PEL is meant to be a per-developer license, taking
        into account that you are likely to need professional support
        when doing your development. By getting a PEL when you start
        developing your software, you can benefit from our priority
        support when you actually need it - during development.

        Third, note that even if you never release the in-house GPL
        version to the public, the terms of the GPL are valid for all
        the people involved in the project. That means that everybody
        with access to the software has the irrevokable right to get
        the source code and distribute it to whomever they want,
        including posting it on public websites etc. - and this would
        be perfectly legal. This is the freedom granted by the GPL,
        and it intentionally clashes with proprietary development.


        I .  C o n c e r n i n g   t h e   n e w   P E L  ( v 2 )


Q 1.0:  I am a Coin PEL holder. What does the new Coin PEL (v2) change for 
        me?  

A:      Nothing. The new Coin PEL is merely a more detailed specification
        of the currently valid rights and conditions.


Q 1.1:  So then why did you bother making a new one?

A:      In the previous license, many points were either not covered at
        all, or not in enough detail. The many questions that we
        received concerning the actual rights and restrictions showed
        us the importance of clearly stating these things, and the
        Coin-2 release was a good opportunity to put the new license
        in place.


Q 1.2:  So, how about a summary in English instead of Legalese? 


A:      My pleasure - here you go. Paragraph by paragraph (note: everything
        that is said about Coin below also applies to the So*
        libraries and Dime/Profit):

        After the definition of what the license is about, and whom it
        concerns, it is stated that SIM is and remains the copyright
        holder and owner of Coin - the license gives you the right to
        use the software, we do not sell it to you.

        You are getting a license for one individual - you, or
        somebody in your company. We are deliberately not restrictive
        about this "in your company", so it's perfectly okay to
        acquire a company license and have an external consultant be
        the actual Coin developer. The important part is the idea that
        it is a personal developer license, not a "site license" or a
        company-wide license. So one license is needed for each
        developer working on Coin-related development.

        The license is valid for one year, after which you will get a
        renewal offer from us.

        You are allowed to use Coin to develop your product, whatever
        that is - except if you are developing a directly competing product.

        You can ship binary version of Coin - modified or unmodified -
        with your product. You are also allowed to distribute the
        source code, but only in unmodified form. If you have changed
        anything, you must distribute the original source code plus
        patches. (See also next question.)

        You will get one year of free upgrades, and you are entitled
        to developer support for that period.

        Now if you don't extend your license after one year, you can
        of course still ship your product. You are also allowed to
        continue doing development using the last version of Coin that
        was released while you had a valid license. You will not get
        any more updates, and you will not get any more support.

        The rest is off-the-shelf legal provisions - standard clauses
        in the (unexpected) case of a lawsuit, statement that we don't
        take any warranty (you are responsible for e.g. loss of data)
        etc.


Q 1.3:  I am allowed to modify the Coin library itself?!

A:      Yup. You are allowed to do that, for instance in order to fix bugs
        or adapt it to your special needs. You are of course not
        allowed to make a modified version of Coin and sell it as your
        own product.  Note that if you have made modifications to the
        Coin library, you are not allowed to distribute the modified
        source code - you have to use source code diffs (patches). You
        are free to distribute a binary of the changed version without
        the need to disclose your source code, but then you can't name
        that binary "Coin". This is necessary to avoid conflicts and
        confusion.


Q 1.4:  If I distribute the Coin source code, under what license is it for
        my customers? 

A:      Under the GPL and PEL. The license is connected to
        copyrightable material (in our case, the Coin source code),
        not the modus of distribution. So regardless of how you get
        the source - from SIM, from somebody else's website, from a
        Debian CD, from Santa Claus - it will always be under both the
        GPL and the PEL.  That means that your customers can use the
        Coin source for Free Software development as covered by the
        GPL. For any proprietary development, they must acquire a PEL.



      I I .  C o n c e r n i n g   t h e   F r e e   E d i t i o n  -
          t h e   s w i t c h   f r o m   L G P L   t o   G P L  


Q 2.0:  I am a Coin PEL holder. What does the change from LGPL to GPL
        mean for me?
 
A:      Nothing at all. Your rights as PEL user are not in any way 
        affected by the LGPL or GPL version of Coin.


Q 2.1:  I was using Coin under the LGPL. What does the change from
        LGPL to GPL mean for me?

A:      Both the GPL and the LGPL are Free Software licenses. The 
        main difference is that, given that one fulfills a set of
        restrictions on how the executable is distributed, the LGPL
        permits the use of the library in proprietary programs, while
        the GPL does not allow that under any circumstances.

        In the concrete case of Coin, this comes down to:

        If you write a Free Software application, licensed under the
        GPL or another compatible Free Software license, you are
        allowed to link against Coin. If you write a proprietary
        application, you are not allowed to use Coin under the GPL -
        you have to acquire a PEL.


Q 2.2:  Why are you switching from LGPL to GPL?
  
A:      There two main reasons why we are switching from LGPL to GPL.

        First of all, we strongly believe in Free Software. The idea
        behind the Free Edition is not to give away Coin - we want to
        share our work with the Free Software community, to the
        benefit of those who want to share /their/ software with the
        community. So if you want to develop Free Software, that's
        great, and for that purpose, you are welcome and encouraged to
        use Coin. If you do not develop Free Software, the Free
        Edition simply does not apply to you; that's what the Coin
        Professional Edition is for.

        Secondly, using the GPL instead of the LGPL fits better with
        our business model. Development costs money :) so of course we
        don't want people to develop products (non-Free Software, that
        is) based on Coin without contributing anything to the Coin
        development and maintenance costs.



References:
 
  PEL |  http://www.coin3d.org/licensing/coin3d/Coin-PEL.txt
  GPL |  http://www.fsf.org/licenses/gpl.txt
 LGPL |  http://www.fsf.org/licenses/lgpl.txt