One of the primary authors of middleman, Jason McLaughlin, forked the
code around version 2.0 and started a commercial branch called
SafeSquid. The web site is here:
The question in my mind is whether all the other contributors gave
assent for a license change. I don't find any hint of such a
discussion on the mailing lists or forums. Even so, maybe I am
missing something obvious.
I sent an email to Jason on 05 Aug, asking him to clarify the legal
status of SafeSquid. He did not reply yet. Perhaps he is still in the
process of switching ISPs. (He mentioned that his old email
jasonmc@... is discontinued and his new email is
Here is some background about the matter:
1. At least since version 1.0 (May 2002), Middleman has been protected
by the GPL .
2. The GPL requires source code to be provided with any binary
3. The GPL applies to derived works.
4. SafeSquid appears to be a closed-source fork of a GPL protected
code base. This is exactly what the GPL is designed to prevent.
5. I find it bizarre and ironic that the person who appears to be
violating the GPL is also among the primary developers of the GPL'd
1. SafeSquid can reposition itself as a service company providing
commercial support, similar to aubit.com. Whatever changes to the
middleman source code could then be merged back into CVS.
2. There are a few well-known projects which have split commercial and
free software licensing. For example: Qt (Trolltech) and Ghostscript.
Middleman could follow this model too, but a one-time license change
would be required which is possible only by agreement from all the
contributors. Judging from the AUTHORS file, that means that Jason
will need to win support for this plan from Riadh Elloumi, Ned Ludd,
Matthew Daniel, Jan Becvar, Mario Peschel, and possibly others.
The current situation is, well, illegal.
I am hesitant to pursue a settlement aggressively out of respect for
Mr. McLaughlin. I don't think there is any need to report the
matter to the FSF unless it remains unresolved for another month.
Mr. McLaughlin, I am sorry to rain on your parade. I hope this letter
finds you well.
A new cognitive theory of emotion, http://openheartlogic.org