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Dynamic loading (was: Release plans)

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Dynamic loading (was: Release plans)
Date: Tue, 19 Aug 2008 07:18:01 +0900

Stefan Monnier writes:
 > [ Please people, use descriptive subjects. ]
 > One thing that's not clear to me is:
 > assuming we add some XEmacs-style dynamic loader to Emacs (probably
 > with some kind of dynamic GPL-check for good measure), would it be legal
 > for someone to distribute a non-GPL module?

Larry Rosen (in his book) says that he believes that it would be
permitted under copyright to distribute the non-GPL module only, ie,
not as part of a distribution including Emacs.  (Not for this specific
case, and his language is somewhat abstract.  But that's my reading of
his position, based on a case where no Emacs code is copied into the
module.  APIs apparently don't count because they're not "expressive",
there's only one way to do it.)

The FSF in its complaint to Aladdin (Ghostscript) claimed that it was
infringement of copyright to do so.  Aladdin distributed a non-GPL
Ghostscript with a Makefile that allowed linking to GNU readline if
you had it.  The threat of court action caused Aladdin to back down
and remove the Makefile stanza that implemented the link.)

As far as I know it has not been tested in court.

 > IIUC, this is a question related to the distribution of non-GPL Elisp
 > packages (which I thought was illegal but recently Richard mentioned he
 > wasn't sure and he was waiting for legal advice about it),

Yes.  AFAICS it's the same thing, legally.  Both a module and an Elisp
library would be part of the same process space, so the "standard
sufficient test" for a single work would be satisfied.  The question
then becomes is the user of the non-GPL code, or the distributor of
the non-GPL code, responsible for the derivative work?  If it's the
user, the GPL provides no hindrance, since it doesn't regulate the
running of the program.

 > and maybe also to the precedent of the GMP-2.0 library.

I'm not familier with that.

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