[cairo] Cairo license obligations

Carl Worth cworth at cworth.org
Sat Apr 9 12:13:21 PDT 2005

On Fri, 08 Apr 2005 22:58:22 -0700, Andreas Raab wrote:
> I hadn't looked at the COPYING file in Cairo for a long, long time and 
> so when I did by accident today I was horrified to find out that Cairo 
> is no longer distributed under the MIT license.

Hi Andreas,

I really am sorry that the license change caught you by surprise.

The license change process first started in November 2003 when I
publicly asked for comments on a change from LGPL to MPL:


Following that announcement, I began a year-long process to contact
every contributor to cairo seeking approval for the license
change. This resulted in a change of the license to the LGPL in August
2004, which I announced and explained here:


This change resulted in no small amount of feedback and discussion
about the LGPL, which I summarized and responded to here:


Also, in response, I went back and once again contacted cairo
contributors to approve yet another license change. This time to allow
the MPL as a license option in addition to the LGPL. I was successful
in completing this process in about one month this time, and announced
the current LGPL or MPL license on September 4, 2004:


> Since I am not familiar with the implication sof of LGPL or MPL (which 
> seem to be the two available options) I am wondering what exactly the 
> practical implications of choosing either license are.

Of course, the technical, and correct, answer is that only the
language of the licenses themselves enumerate the implications (and
obligations). And, naturally, if you need help in evaluating the
license language, I would recommend seeking a legal opinion, (which I
am not qualified to provide).

If you are curious about my (again, non-legal) opinions on the
license, the messages I've linked to above contain more verbiage than
I care to repeat here. The archives also contain the responses from
many other developers and users of cairo that you might also find

> I am in particular interested in a situation where Cairo is part of a 
> "reusable larger system" (similar to Mono) where the "parent" system 
> should be distributed under MIT.

You are developing free software, so it is my personal desire that you
should have no problem using cairo to do so. If you do discover any
barrier to developing free software with cairo, please let me know
what the specific concern is, as I would like to do what I can to help
resolve the problem.

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