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Re: [OctDev] Octave-forge packaging

From: John W. Eaton
Subject: Re: [OctDev] Octave-forge packaging
Date: Sat, 23 Apr 2005 14:38:23 -0400

On 23-Apr-2005, Rafael Laboissiere <address@hidden> wrote:

| Thanks for bringing this issue to my attention, I was not aware of it.
| The first paragraph of the first question reads:
|     If you do this, your program won't be fully usable in a free
|     environment. If your program depends on a non-free library to do a
|     certain job, it cannot do that job in the Free World. If it depends
|     on a non-free library to run at all, it cannot be part of a free
|     operating system such as GNU; it is entirely off limits to the Free
|     World.
| My understanding of what is written above is that the octave-gpc binding
| is pretty useless in the Free World, but that I am not prevented to
| release it under the GPL.  People are just prevented to freely
| redistribute the linked result Octave/GPC/octave-gpc, but they are
| allowed to install the packages and use this linked result in their
| computers.

It depends on whether you agree with the FSF that having the "user
perfrom the link" is a violation of the GPL.  The reason is that this
is a subterfuge.  No one person along the way is doing something avoid
the terms of the GPL, but the result is the same.

Clearly, different people have different ideas about the claim that
the FSF makes.  But I agree with the FSF interpretation.  If you
accept the other interpretation, and say that it is OK to have the
user perform the link, then the GPL is weakened to the point where it
might as well not exist.  In any case where the terms of the GPL would
be violated by distributing non-free software linked with GPL
software, we could just distribute the parts separately and ask that
users perform the final step of linking them together.

| As regards the second question, there is nothing in the GPC package that
| prevents linking it against a GPL program.  

I thought that the reason that this discussion started was that the
license for some dependency of the GPC package included a clause about
noncommercial use, which conflicts with the GPL.


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