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Re: GPL traitor !

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: GPL traitor !
Date: Mon, 18 May 2009 19:54:56 +0200

Hyman Rosen wrote:
> you to change yours. Further discussion along these lines is fruitless because
> it is simply your incorrect insistence against my correct one. Unless you have
> evidence that someone in a position to matter believes as you do?

How about Larry, Hyman? (Larry Rosen. ("He currently advises many open 
source companies and non-profit open source projects including Apache 
Software Foundation and the Python Software Foundation.  In 2005-2006 
he was a Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School. Larry currently 
serves on the board of directors of International Characters, and on 
the advisory boards of SpikeSource, Black Duck Software, and 

"Myth 2: You can’t mix GPL software with other software.

False. According to experts in open source licenses this is possible,
especially with the wording in the latest GPLv3 draft.

First, the easy cases. Both versions of GPL have a clause that allows
“aggregations” of GPL covered software with non-GPL software. GPLv3
draft 4 puts it this way in section 5 (GPLv2 says something similar in
section 2 of that license):

A compilation of a covered work with other separate and independent
works, which are not by their nature extensions of the covered work, in
or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an
“aggregate” if the compilation and its resulting copyright are not used
to limit the access or legal rights of the compilation’s users beyond
what the individual works permit. Inclusion of a covered work in an
aggregate does not cause this License to apply to the other parts of the

Take, for example, Red Hat Enterprise Linux. RHEL contains both free and
non-free programs. It contains programs covered by GPL, EPL, Apache,
BSD, and every other conceivable license. The last paragraph in section
5 says this is OK even though they’re conveyed as a single aggregate.

In his “Comments on GPLv3” <>
essay, open source attorney Lawrence Rosen writes that he believes this
clause can even be used to combine GPL licensed code “modules” with code
from other licenses even in the same program, though I think that’s a
bit of a stretch. When I told Larry that he responded:

Stretch away. If you mean the term “module” is a “smallest unit of
compiled object code,” then perhaps it is not copyrightable at all. But
in the general sense I meant that word as applied to larger,
commercially and computationally significant copyrightable works, such
as “a database module” or a “file system module,” that contain
significant copyrightable expressive content. If those
independently-written copyrighted modules are used in a collective work
(a larger computer system), and both licenses permit verbatim copies to
be aggregated in that way, then I consider that a permitted collective
work. There is nothing derivative about it (unless, perhaps, the
resulting larger work is intended as a replacement database or file
system module for the originals, but that’s a factual issue relating to
derivative works analysis)."

"I have long counseled that GPLv2 allowed that result also, but some
argued otherwise. All the FUD that I and others have spread over the
years about linking—static, dynamic, otherwise—didn’t help matters much.
This argument can be replaced now by intelligent conversation about the
actual words of GPLv3, which I understand to allow aggregations of
verbatim copies of independently-written modules taken from the
worldwide portfolio of free and open source software. I have always read
the Open Source Definition as mandating that open source licenses permit
the copying and distribution of verbatim copies including for collective
works, and this added clarity in GPLv3 supports that interpretation.
Perhaps now our software commons is vastly larger for collecting
independent open source modules into interoperating solutions for our

"Subject: RE: Comments on GPLv3 Actions... 
From: Lawrence Rosen (address@hidden) 
Date: Jun 6, 2007 3:12:33 pm 

At Niclas Hedman's request, I'm copying legal-discuss. 

-----Original Message-----
From: address@hidden [mailto:address@hidden On Behalf Of Niclas
Sent: Tuesday, June 05, 2007 9:27 PM
To: address@hidden
Subject: Re: Comments on GPLv3

Does this mean that the virality of Collective Works is gone?

1) Copyleft for derivative works remains.
2) Copyleft for collective works never was.

The skill comes in learning how to distinguish them. GPLv3 uses clearer
language and makes the distinctions more obvious than GPLv2. In
"verbatim copies" may be used in "aggregations." Ultimately, though,
copyright law defines those terms.

Ok. But how does that relates to the "Derivative Works" definition of
dynamically linked languages, such as Java?? IIUIC, FSF always
maintained that the runtime linked result is always a derivative
More importantly, got any info on how this affects LGPL ?? Or is it
not part of v3 at all?

On address@hidden list would be much better. I know a lot of people
are following this closely.

[LR:] The definitions of derivative works and collective works are in
Copyright Act, and are not specific to dynamically linked languages such

The law deals with copyrighted works. When work A is aggregated with
work B
to form a collective work C, the law doesn't ask about the type of glue
is used in the book binding to collect those works together. An
work that contains a data base module A and a file system module B can
collected into a larger program C that serves as a software application.
Copyright subsists in C to the extent that the aggregation is itself an
expressive work. As long as the individual licenses for A and B allow
aggregation and distribution of verbatim copies (and all FOSS licenses
then it matters little whether the aggregation is via Java mechanisms or
old-style linking in C. It makes no difference if the resulting work is
dynamically loaded or pre-etched onto computer chips. 

To call every such aggregation a derivative work misapplies the
law. Independently-written software modules are not derivative works of
other simply because they are copied, verbatim, into an operating
and operated together. In fact, for one copyrighted work to attempt to
control (through its license) the licenses of independent works may be,
some situations, copyright misuse resulting in the loss of the

The only thing new that GPLv3 brings to the table about this point is
its language is now clearer than GPLv2. Verbatim copies of
works can be made and distributed without any effect on the licenses of
aggregated works. (See GPLv3 §4 and last paragraph of §5.) The GPLv3
continues to apply to those verbatim copies.

I have not focused at all on LGPLv3 and so I have no comment on it at
time. But it certainly will be interesting to see if LGPLv3 attempts to
more or less than what GPLv3 does for aggregations of verbatim copies. 


P.S. Be aware that RMS doesn't agree with me. I'm not surprised."


(GNG is a derecursive recursive derecursion which pwns GNU since it can 
be infinitely looped as GNGNGNGNG...NGNGNG... and can be said backwards 
too, whereas GNU cannot.)

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