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Re: README.woe32, GPL, and the Win32 binaries

From: Bruno Haible
Subject: Re: README.woe32, GPL, and the Win32 binaries
Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2004 17:07:00 +0100
User-agent: KMail/1.5

Kenneth J. Davis wrote:
> From README.woe32 in gettext-0.13.1.tar.gz "Note that binaries created with
> MSVC 7.0 cannot be distributed: They depend on a closed-source library
> 'msvcr70.dll' which is not normally part of a Woe32 installation, therefore
> the distribution of such binaries - with or without msvcr70.dll - would be
> a violation of the GPL. This problem does not occur with MSVC 6.0 and
> earlier."

This is correct.

> However, the binaries distributed in gettext-runtime-0.13.bin.woe32.zip
> and gettext-tools-0.13.bin.woe32.zip appear to be linked against
> 'msvcr70.dll'.

These binaries are a mistake. Please don't use them.

> From the GPL text in COPYING in gettext-0.13.1.tar.gz "However, as a
> special exception, the source code distributed need not include anything
> that is normally distributed (in either source or binary form) with the
> major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the operating system on
> which the executable runs, unless that component itself accompanies the
> executable."

Yes, and msvcr70.dll is not part of a normal Windows installation.
Microsoft recommends to ship this DLL with each application that uses it,
but we cannot do this with GPLed applications.

> It is 'msvcr70.dll' or other MSVC CRTLs that can not be distributed with
> a GPL'd application/binary, not the binary created by MSVC that can not
> be distributed.

If someone distributes a binary created by MSVC, with the intent that the
user retrieves 'msvcr70.dll' somewhere else, his binary and the 'msvcr70.dll'
still form a "combined work" in the terms of the GPL, and therefore must
be distributed under the GPL. But he cannot do that since the source of
msvcr70.dll is not available.

It's the same reason why we cannot distribute UWIN binaries of GPLed
programs: UWIN is not "normally distributed with the OS" and is not

> Please clarify the README text, including the relation of this perceived
> violation in conjunction with msvcrt.dll / msvcr70.dll on other Win32
> platforms such as Windows 95 (which may not have originally shipped with
> msvcrt.dll)

msvcrt.dll is not the same thing because it is usually distributed with
Windows. Whether that includes old Windows95, is not relevant.

> Do you not consider the crtlib to be normally distributed
> with MSVC or is MSVC [a compiler] not a major component on Win32 platforms?

The crtlib _is_ distributed with every Windows installation, therefore the
GPL's exception applies to binaries that link to it.

MSVC is not a part of Windows; you have to pay extra for it.

> If using MSVC 7 and distributing the binaries is a violation of the GPL,
> then why do the gettext binaries distributed appear to be compiled with
> MSVC 7?

Because I did a mistake. I didn't know about the issue.


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