Re: GPL and linking (was: Urgently need GPL compatible libsnmp5-dev replacement :-()
Jakob Bohm wrote:
No difference. When someone offers a good or service under a contract
text, the offeror of the goods and services is the one against whom the
terms of said contract would be construed in the case of a reasonable
Sorry, I misspoke; contracts are construed against the offeror, not
against the drafter, when there's a distinction. The offeror had the
option of proposing language as explicit as he or she chose, so
ambiguities are as a matter of law construed against his or her
interests. That is the case even if the offeror chose a boilerplate
license drafted by someone else.
AH, that is a big difference indeed. But what happens if the
person offering the contract text is not the person offering the
goods or services being contracted? Like if someone hands out a
form contract offer that people need to sign to be considered
for an audition, or if the licensee has directly or indirectly
asked the licensor to use the GPL.
So why my concession that the case for license is a little weaker for
static linking? Simply because a court might rule that the paraphrase
is close enough that "a work containing the Program or a portion of
it" reaches to the next layer of shrink-wrap, which might be an ELF
binary or even a Debian package. But frankly I think that anyone who
believes that "a work based on the Program", as defined in the GPL,
spans interface boundaries between separately engineered, maintained,
and packaged software components with no common authorship is
confused. Or to be generous, arrived at that opinion before looking
closely at the GPL text and at some implementation of copyright law as
interpreted in recent courts of competent jurisdiction. Hey, no great
shame in that; I used to be confused that way, too.
There are 3 issues here:
Does "a work based on the Program" cover separately engineered
programs inspired by or designed for use with "the Program" (I
Not IMHO. Works "based on the Program" do not encompass those larger
bundles, that are technically qualified as "collection" or "anthology"
works. The GPL exemption (explicit at section 2, paragraph 3, implicit
by comparison at sections 5 and 10) is that you are free to redistribute
the work (or even works based on it) inside other anthology works.
Does "a work based on the Program" include works (copyrightable
or not) that include within them a copyrightable copy or
derivative of "the Program", to the extent that the GPL has not
explicitly exempted those larger bundles as "mere aggregation"
(whatever that means)?
Does the GPL impose conditions on the combination of "a work
based on the Program" with something not "a work based on the
Program" in some limited circumstances?
Not IMHO. In no circumstances.
I did not see the "lean towards derivation.". Could you quote it to me
Not much here that differs from what I wrote (and you quoted)
above: The judge deferred ruling on the derivation issue to a
later trial, but actually leaned towards derivation. The
It's not just that -- the estopped himself also from (trying to even if
he could succeed in) binding to the terms of the GPL binary
dynamically-loadable kernel modules (especially device drivers) that are
not by themselves derivative works from the kernel (or IOW that do not
use the "protected" DECLARE_SYMBOL_GPL()-declared "for-internal-use" API).
As for Linus and Linux, it appears that his opinion about the legal
meaning of the GPL is not too far from mine (though not quite
identical; see thread at http://lkml.org/lkml/2003/12/4/239 , for
instance) and that he's done the sensible thing and estopped himself
from pursuing a class of silly copyright infringement claims. Which
is what the FSF should do, and then we can all get on with making
software that sucks less.
The FSF should do that if it is in its interest or makes no
It is in Linus interest to assure the world that running on top
of a Linux kernel does not subject your code to the terms of the
GPL, and to do so in a manner seen as legally binding by those
who might otherwise refuse to use his big creation.
Disclaimers: IANAL, TINLA, IANADD, plus the one in my sig
P.S. The disclaimer in my sig has not been cleared through a
lawyer. Its primary design criteria was the 4 line limit of
Disclaimers: IANAL TINLA IANADD