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Re: [fluid-dev] Licenses compatibility

From: Miguel Lobo
Subject: Re: [fluid-dev] Licenses compatibility
Date: Thu, 8 Jan 2009 21:07:01 +0000

>> Those files are GPL-licensed, while fluidsynth is distributed under
>> the LGPL.  Anyone thinking of using those files as inspiration for a
>> fluidsynth driver should be very careful.
> You are kidding, I suppose.

Nope.  Admittedly, I am not a lawyer, even less so an IP lawyer, so I
can only speak from my layman's understanding.  However, I do think
that I've read enough about IP law to at least be able to recognise
the sort of things that can lead to license trouble.  As someone who
would like to be able to create LGPL-licensed derivative works of
fluidsynth, I'm not particularly fond of the idea of making the
licensing situation any less clear than it needs to be.

> But seriously speaking again. When I release some program under the GPL, I
> don't forbide anyone to look to my sources for inspiration, even if the
> looker is not going to release his work under the same license. That would be
> against the the free software philosophy of sharing the knowledge. What you
> can't do is to take my whole GPL'd work and close it, or copy lage chunks of
> code into a proprietary product.
> Copy+Paste may violate the license terms. But reading GPL code for reference,
> inspiration or learning is using it in a legitimate way, IMHO.

It's not a matter of "legitimacy" or of making a good guess at what
the author or authors of those files would want.  It's a matter of
legality: creating a derivative work of a copyrighted work (such as
the LinuxSampler files) is *illegal* unless you have a license that
allows you to do so.  If you include a derivative work of those files
in fluidsynth and distribute the result under the LGPL, you are
*violating* those files' license.  So if someone wants to use those
files in some way to write a fluidsynth driver, he should be quite
confident that the driver he's writing is not going to be a derivative

What exactly constitutes a derivative work is apparently a difficult
question.  Maybe just reading those files before writing yours is sort
of safe.  Any sort of copying from them would probably be entering
questionable territory.  Anyway, as I said I'm not a lawyer, so all I
can do is to advise people to be very careful.

Check out Gleam, an LGPL sound synthesizer library, at http://gleamsynth.sf.net

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