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Re: Question About GNU General Public License


From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: Question About GNU General Public License
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 10:22:07 +0200

< misc.int-property and misc.legal.computing added >

Isaac wrote:
[...]
> > If what you call "make a system call" is just a command line call,
> > then it is pretty much established that command line calls imply you
> > are using the software, not deriving from it.
> 
> I think the only thing really established is that the FSF will not
> sue you if you do this.  I am not aware of any legal authority
> supporting such a distinction based on copyright law.  I'm also not
> certain that an author is required to use this interpretation on
> his own code even if he incorporates FSF code into his work.
> 
> My personal opinion is that in a situation where I would object to
> dyanmic linking to my code, I would not be pleased with some who
> used some other form of IPC to accomplish the an equivalent result.

Yeah.

http://google.com/groups?selm=4.3.2.7.2.20011219200831.01ea1a60_localhost%40ns.sol.net
(Subject: Re: GPL nonsense: time to stop)

----
At 07:10 PM 12/19/2001, Gary W. Swearingen wrote:

>Given some of the strange ideas I've seen from Moglen, I don't give his
>legal opinions complete credence, but given his position with the FSF,
>it is gives us a pretty good idea of what his and RMS's opinions would
>probably be on a couple of the issues we've discussed.  Note that he
>spoke for himself, not the FSF.

True. His opinions will likely determine whether the FSF will pursue
a lawsuit, though, so they are important even if he is wrong. 

My personal opinion is that the GPL is unenforceable due to 
"meta-contract" issues and also because it constitutes what
is sometimes called "copyright abuse" -- the attempted use of a 
claim of copyright to accomplish ends beyond copyright's 
Constitutional scope. But these arguments would of course have
to be made in a test case.

>I found two things particularly interesting: The company (after the
>arm-twisting) planned to distrubute a package that consisted of GPL'd
>code and non-GPL'd code and some of the latter installed the rest.
>Moglen found that no "technical interpenetration" justifies regarding
>them as a single, combined work and that such packages are "mere
>aggregations" permitted by the GPL.

The FSF's CURRENT stance (it could change tomorrow) is that linking 
-- static or dynamic -- brings the entire work under the GPL, whereas
IPC does not. (Never mind that they're just different forms of
communication between two chunks of code.) BeOS, which uses GPLed
drivers, exploits this loophole by making its device drivers autonomous 
processes that communicate with the rest of the OS via fast IPC. It 
then takes GPLed drivers for Linux and converts them to BeOS drivers 
by putting a process skeleton around them. Voila! Instant access to
a vast library of device drivers.

Of course, RMS could, tomorrow, decide that those hoarding thieves
at Be, Inc. deserve to be punished and revise either the GPL or
his legal beagles' stance.

Does the FSF's current stance make sense? Is it enforceable? Who knows! 
The important thing is that loading a kernel module would NOT satisfy 
the FSF's criteria for "separateness" and would thus compel the FreeBSD 
Project to license the kernel under the GPL.

--Brett Glass

To Unsubscribe: send mail to address@hidden
----

http://www.nusphere.com/releases/2002/022702_malert.htm

----
Boston, February 27, 2002 — The Free Software Foundation (FSF) 
issued a press release yesterday inaccurately stating that NuSphere 
Corporation, an independent operating company of Progress Software 
Corporation, "lost the right to distribute MySQL software due to a 
violation of the GNU General Public License (GPL)." According to 
Lorne Cooper, president of NuSphere Corporation, these statements 
are inaccurate and inappropriate, as the case has yet to be 
presented in court.

"The Free Software Foundation had no basis on which to issue this 
statement," said Cooper. "The dispute between NuSphere and MySQL AB 
originated from a trademark dispute. The initial court hearing 
takes place today in Boston Federal Court. We believe actions such 
as this press release by the FSF violate basic ethics regarding due 
process of law and can only harm the open source community by 
alarming commercial users of open software."

The FSF contends that NuSphere violated the GPL by simply linking 
proprietary software to the MySQL system using a public API. MySQL 
AB is interpreting the GPL so broadly that any commercial software 
that comes into contact with free software must also become free, 
according to Cooper. By that standard, a commercial email program 
would violate the GPL if it downloaded mail from a GPL-compliant 
mail server, he says.
----

(more background information on MySQL farce can be found here: 
http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=40EB1A62.F5AC372F%40web.de)

regards,
alexander.


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