Module licensing questions

So, I see a wide variety of licenses being used for opensource modules. Module code varies from CC0 (public domain), GPL3, GPL3+, MIT, and BSD licenses.

However for the graphics resources this is a bit murky. Many module packs use CC BY-NC* style licenses that mean they cannot be used for commercial purpose, however Rack Pro is obviously a commercial product. Wouldn’t this mean that Rack Pro is not allowed to use any of these modules? Or does publishing to the VCV store automatically waiver any such licenses? (essentially appending an explicit exception for VCV)

Overall I find the varied forms of licensing used to be quite inconsistent and confusing. Are there any guidelines for this and what do people think of the future implications when choosing a specific license?

I don’t know the answer to your question - and I don’t read legal documents in general.

Have you seen this page ?

It may hold the answers to your question.

Vcv does not re use graphics from other modules. It loads third party plugins, and some of those plugins source have licenses that say you can’t use their graphics in another product.

You can consult an ip lawyer if you want, but logically the only reason people made these modules was to have them be loaded by vcv. That’s the only reason they exist.

Then, in most cases, those original authors explicitly requested that vcv build those modules and distribute them in the library.

Is there some particular issue you are worried about? Maybe you have a more specific question?

Thnx, but that page doesn’t say anything about the resource licenses at all :slight_smile:

It is good to see that VCV also recommends GPLv3+ over just GPLv3 since it means that future GPLv4/5/etc code is allowed to use it. Some vendors use only GPLv3 which is problematic in that sense.

It links to this page:

Rack Free is open source, Rack Pro is a closed source VST wrapper for the open source Rack Free, so when using Rack Pro what you’re doing is loading the VST which then loads Rack Free which then loads plugins containing modules.

It doesn’t matter if rack is a commercial product. A commercial product can load an open source dll unless the license specifically says it can’t. If that wasn’t true, insanity would prevail, an open source software could never be used anywhere.

Here’s an idiotic example. Mac OS is a commercial product. Liber office is an open source program. But macOS loads liber office. Oh Noez! Using free software for commercial purposes!

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Unless you are an IP lawyer I’m not going to take this as legal advice, sorry.

The interpretations for this can vary wildly and what you are saying is just one end of the spectrum. Which is exactly the problem here :slight_smile:

@Jens.Peter.Nielsen not relevant, since I’m not talking about VCV internal licensing at all.

One of the issues arising from CC BY-NC is that for instance Linux Distros are sometimes sold on a cd or usb stick. Thus making the medium “commercial”. Even though all the content is open-source.

Such a distro cannot include any CC BY-NC content by extension.

But, VCV Rack 2 Pro surely does not include any of these 3rd party modules ? Only Fundamental is included - and it’s wholly owned by VCV.

VCV hosts modules on, that the user can install in VCV rack free or pro. But they’re not part of a commercial offering of VCV Rack 2 pro.

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Maybe, IANAL.

What I’m describing goes way beyond the pure VCV case. I’m talking much more general about licensing issues that arise from this.

Arguably CC BY-NC is not opensource compatible. GPLv3+ allows to sell software by 3rd parties, CC BY-NC does not.

If they authors didn’t mind 3rd parties reselling their works, I guess they would have chosen a different license.

The intention with those cc licenses of graphics is that,you do not re-use the graphics in a new piece of software, not that you do not sell the software.

Btw, I have developed perhaps 30 free modules that are in the library. If you are planning on making a Jack module, welcome to the club! If the licensing issues make you uncomfortable of course feel free to not develop any modules. If you feel that vcv itself is illegal or unethical, feel free to vote with your feet and not buy it.

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The intention doesn’t matter. these resource licenses bar the inclusion in other opensource projects as I described, which is a shame.

I’m not voicing any specific meaning here, just that there are explicit concerns with some of the licenses included and it’s all very murky territory from a legal standpoint. Not having clear guidelines for how best to apply licensing is unfortunate as there is now a minefield of potential consequences that perhaps nobody really intended to exist. It’s there either way and I’m just trying to work out how best to interpret it.

ok, that’s cool. I have never heard anyone interpret CC by that way. We look forward to hearing back what your IP lawyer advises you.

This is exactly how Linux distributions and the Free Software Foundation interpret it →

I find that article a little difficult to parse. Because the author mentions “copy left” so often I assume (but don’t really know) that they are talking about re-publishing source and graphics, not merely running a program that contains them.

In any case, I think that’s how most people interpret it here. We believe that anyone can load a plugin designed for VCV into VCV and not worry about the license. After all, the license isn’t distributed with the binary, so how would and end user even find the original source code license?

I think you are saying that that source code license is also an end user license? I can’t disprove that, although personally I don’t think that’s true. But what I believe means very little of course.

Do you agree that according to your interpretation I could not legally run any software on my windows computer than contained any cc-by graphics (since windows is loading and running my software exactly the same way VCV loads and runs my modules)? And that if I shared that belief if would be literally impossible for me to know if I were violating that license?

Sorry, but you are completely misinterpreting what I’m saying.

I gave a very explicit example of inclusion of modules in, for instance, Linux Distributions. The CC BY-NC explicitly bars that because Distros are sometimes sold on a medium like a CD or USB-stick, thus making them “commercial”. Any such content is therefor not allowed.

CC BY-NC is explicitly not compatible with the GPL → Various Licenses and Comments about Them - GNU Project - Free Software Foundation

I did not mean to completely misunderstand. Your original post said:

VCV does not sell anything that contains anyone else’s plugins. They don’t sell a disk of anything. They sell an executable and a dll that afaik don’t contain any improperly licensed things.

They to make it easy for the end user to load other people’s modules, however.

I think your question is "is it allowed for Rack Pro to use modules that may contain cc-by artwork. That is my best-faith interpretation of the quote from you.

I can’t really speak at all to the use case of a linux disk that is sold commercially and contains software that in turn has cc-by graphics. It’s not a case I’ve though much about.

That’s why I used the admittedly contrived example of windows (commercial) loading cc-by “stuff”. While contrived, I think it’s closer to what VCV actually does than the example of a linux distro selling cc-by software.

Anyway, sorry for any misinterpretation of your question.

Again, nowhere am I talking about VCV in this case.

I’m talking about the rest of the world that might have an interest in these opensource modules and including it in their collections. The incompatibility between GPL licensed code and its CC BY-NC/ND artwork remains either way.