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Re: Use of GPL'd code with proprietary programs

From: Christopher C. Stacy
Subject: Re: Use of GPL'd code with proprietary programs
Date: Sun, 11 Jul 2004 06:48:29 GMT
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.2

>>>>> On 11 Jul 2004 01:28:24 +0200, David Kastrup ("David") writes:

 David> Alexander Terekhov <address@hidden> writes:
 >> Martin Dickopp wrote:
 >> [... "dynamically linked" ...]
 >> > I think we can agree to disagree here.  This has already been
 >> > discussed so many times that it's unlikely that either one of us
 >> > will come up with a new argument.
 >> Good luck trying to convince a {non-drunken} judge that the use of
 >> dlopen() may result in criminal penalties under copyright law
 >> (because {under GNU law} it would violate exclusive right of
 >> copyright owners to create derivative works).

 David> I thought that copyright cases were dealt with under the civil code?
 David> But there is a fine line between calling dlopen and dynamically
 David> linking a program: in the latter case, symbol addresses are resolved
 David> and scattered through the caller.  The calling code is adapted to the
 David> called library and can't call a different one after linking.

I think you may have misspoken in the above paragraph, because "dlopen" 
_is_ dynamic linking.  Your sentence makes more sense if you say that
_static_ linking scatters the symbol addresses of the library around
in the caller.  But the symbols and addresses are not copyrightable
material -- an address is like a page number in a book.  In static
linking, what is being "merged" (copied) into the original program 
are merely "page numbers" of useful (but seperate) library entries.
(But in dynamic linking, nothing is being "merged" at all, and the
library was not even present when the program was being created.)

A judge or jury is going to have someone explaining to them
that a symbol is just a name, like "Fred" or "Chapter 3",
and that an "address" is exactly what they think it is:
a numeric location (like "Suite 3" or "page 12").

Don't you think you could publish an original book that 
consisted solely of original material like the following?

  "In order to prepare dinner, see "Good Public Lunches".
   First look at library book page 12, then allow it to cool.
   Next, do what it says on library book page 34.
   Take the resulting batter and deep fry it, then drain on 
   paper towels. Plate with some sliced onions."
The only dubious part, it seems to me, is that you have also shipped
a copy of the booklet "Good Public Lunches" the same cover,
But the GPL granted you the right to do that, as long as you also
included various notices that they require with that copy.

The dynamic linking version of the above would be this:

  "In order to prepare dinner, go get yourself any good recipe
   library book you like that includes anyone's take on the 
   recipes that you'll see we call for here.
   First look up "Fried Green Tomatoes"; allow them to cool.
   Next, do what it says under "Crispy Spicy Fritters".
   Take the resulting batter and deep fry it, then drain on 
   paper towels. Plate with some sliced onions."

In the dynamic linking case, you may have received such an appropriate
book with compatible recipies (although we don't care what page numbers
they're on - just that it has a usable index) from us under seperate cover.  
Again, GPL has said that it's okay to do this and even emphasizes 
that it's a "mere aggregation".

 David> that two non-functional entities are
 David> combined into one that can do the job.

It looks to me like two seperate original works are involved here, 
and the library has not been "transformed" nor "adapted" nor "recast"
nor "translated" nor "abridged" nor "condensed"; no new version of 
the library has been created.  Those are the phrases I see in the law.

I'm don't know what "non-functional" means, or where in the copyright
law that is mentioned.  Where did you get that idea from?

(Of course, for a variety of reasons, I don't think you can copyright
a page number, or prevent someone from creating a simple citation.
For one thing, those are just facts.)

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