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GPL vs LGPL, Was Bug#8676

On Sun, 13 Apr 1997, Bruce Perens wrote:

> > It should also not restrict the program from being used to develop
> > other software (including non-free software). [...] some of the
> > development libraries in Debian are licensed under the GPL (not LGPL).
> > Now, non-free programs may not be linked with GPL-ed libraries (if I
> > understand the GPL - please correct if I am wrong, I'm not a lawyer),
> > and the normal use of a library is to link it with other programs.
> > So, this looks like a use restriction to me.
> Hm. I don't like "polluting" libraries, but I'm not sure it's our issue,
> at least not yet. Comments, anyone? I agree we should warn about them.
> Libpaper is our creation, is it not? Perhaps the GPL vs. LGPL is a mistake.

I once had a long discussion about the GPL, LGPL and Free BSD license. It
goes like this,

- The GPL is -VERY- restrictive, it uses the term 'derived work' to
  describe things to which it is transfered. Derived work is so incredibly
  broad that it could be applied to nearly anything.
- The LGPL is exactly like the GPL with the exception that linking
  programs to it does not cause the linked program to be GPL'd. The
  requirement is that the linked program include enough that the user can
  relink it with a new version of the LPGL'd library. In the case of
  static liking this means object files.
- Any and All programs that link with a GPL'd library fall under the
  coverage of the GPL irregarless of thier own licenses.
- Any and All output of a GPL'd program can be considered a derived work
  of that program and is convered on the GPL. This is especially true in
  the case were a large amount of the processing is creating 'new' things.
  Bison, gperf, gcc etc.
- Compilers and compiler tools have a modified GPL that exempts the above.
- The common example is if you take a single line of GPL'd code and place
  it in any program the license states that program must be GPL'd.

I personally feel GPL'd libraries are very bad and it would be nice if
Debian took some steps to try to keep them to a minimum.

Also, Debian has to be carefull, since precompiled binaries are provided
any of them linked to a GPL'd library must carry the GPL license. If the
existing license is not compatible then it is not good (illigal?).

The above is basically what came out of the discussion I had some time
ago. I don't know how correct it is, but that is a very literal
interpritation of the license. It all revolves around exactly what a
'derived work' is.


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