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Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- linking in the GNU Republic

From: rjack
Subject: Re: GPLv3 comedy unfolding -- linking in the GNU Republic
Date: Thu, 24 May 2007 16:09:16 -0500
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-US; rv:1.7.2) Gecko/20040804 Netscape/7.2 (ax)

Alexander Terekhov wrote:

GNU Reichsminister f�r Volksaufkl�rung und Propaganda Eben "Anarchism Triumphant" and "dot Communist Manifesto" Moglen is drooling down his Gerber bib again:

Question: Is there any provision on GPL V3 regarding linking? I'm not a
lawyer so bear with me; from what I've understood there was always some
conflict or some different opinion between what happens when you link
with GCC statically or dynamically regarding what your source code
should be in the GPL, or not. And I don't think this question has always
been clearly answered.
Moglen: I think the question was largely an imposition of uncertainty by
outside forces and myself. But what GPL3 did to attempt to resolve it in
this very sentence that Mark was asking about the definition of
corresponding source code says that the corresponding source code to a
work includes all those libraries linked statically or dynamically,
which the work requires an order to run that are not system libraries.
So the answer to your question, we hope, is this time clear; the
Foundation always believed and continues to believe that codes
statically linked to other code can be part of a single combined work.
Where it is part of a single combined work you need copyright permission
to copy, modify, or redistribute that work as a whole. And if you
distribute it in ways which are--which have the result of reducing other
people's rights below you're either infringing or you're secularly
liable for infringement. The requirement would be to prove that the
dynamically linked work is--despite the dynamic linking situation in
which the code establishes its connections--nonetheless part of a single
Are there times when from a copyright law point of view you would find
code dynamically linked to other code--part of a single work? Yes; I
have no doubt. If you take a thing which is an intrinsically single
program and you split it in half and put half its routines into
something which then is linked together to make it share the library,
and you run the executable with half the routines against it, and they
share their control blocks in a completely indiscriminate fashion, and
they write in one another's memory areas --if the only thing that
happens is every jump instruction reads a table first to figure out
where to go to, then nothing has happened from a copyright law point of
view that should change our judgment about what's going to work and what
At the same time, if it is clear that that dynamically linked library
exists for hundreds of purposes, that there are other substitute
dynamically linked libraries which could have been used instead right--I
use readln sometimes but Ted doesn't use readln; he wishes to use
something else and the thing that he wishes to use is a complete
substitute for readln and then there's no way in the world that one
would want to say that those two dynamically linked activities are part
of the same work.
So I think that the static linking, dynamic linking distinction was
under-specified. What it should have said was static linking is a
necessary and sufficient condition to find the presence of a single
work. Dynamic linking is neither necessary nor sufficient but a
dynamically linked work may be either a separate and independent work
with outside the boundaries of GPL or part of the same overall work
requiring treatment under GPL and it is the facts of how the programs or
routines communicate, which makes the difference. -------

I would take Professor Moglen's advice very seriously, he is the first legal
expert to explain to the proprietary world that a copyright license is not a

"Licenses are not contracts: the work's user is obliged to remain within the bounds of the license not because she voluntarily promised, but because she doesn't have any right to act at all except as the license permits."

With legal acumen honed to this exceptional degree, his pronouncements should be taken
very seriously.


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