[offtopic] license stuff

On Sun, 4 Apr 1999, Michael Robinson wrote:
> No there isn't a clause about that.  There is a clause that releases "major
> components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on which
> the executable runs" from the source code availability requirements for
> binary distributions.  Nothing about linking.

Michael, what you are missing: linking is considered to make the linked
library a part of a derived work. That is why the GPL applies to it.
Linking is not specifically mentioned in the GPL, but this is how people
think it applies in legal terms and RMS asked the lawyer(s) who helped him
work on it to make it mean that. There is no court precedent, and yes, it
is all in some sense conjecture until then; but it is conjecture by

There is plenty of information on this on www.gnu.org and the
gnu.misc.discuss archives; it is rapidly drifting off-topic here so you
really should take it to gnu.misc.discuss because we have all been through
this already. (Though I will warn you that this conversation has already
been had 1000 times on there too, but at least it's on topic.)
> There is nothing in the GPL about "compatible" and "incompatible" licenses.  

However, if a license does not place any restrictions on you that conflict
with the requirements of the GPL, then the license gives you the same
rights that the GPL does. This means that you can distribute it under the
terms of the GPL, I gather. You'll notice that Apple is distributing
BSD-licensed code under the terms of the APSL; and they do have a bunch of
lawyers. RMS may not have as many lawyers, but he did talk to at least
one. The lawyers say you can do it.

> All that notwithstanding, there still is nothing in the GPL which prohibits 
> linking of GPL code with any other kind of code.  The only restrictions are
> on how such a linked executable may be distributed.

That's true, the GPL has no restrictions on use whatsoever. However, it is
not that simple; this thread has also been done 1000 times. Search
DejaNews for "plugins" and "GPL"; RMS posted something about this around a
year ago and a massive discussion/flamefest ensued.
> My point is basically this:  Is the GPL an actual legal document, is it
> some sort of "oral tradition", or is it just whatever happens to suit
> Richard Stallman's personal agenda at any given point in time?

It is a legal document with no court precedent. Which means it's open to
interpretation. However up to now everyone (including some big companies
with lawyers) has always released the source rather than fight in court,
and lawyers were consulted in the GPL's creation. So they didn't feel the
interpretation left massive loopholes.


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