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Re: Another goal for slink



Hamish Moffatt <hamish@debian.org> writes:

> OK.. I maintain www-mysql, which is GPL but links to mysql, which
> is non-free (hence www-mysql is in contrib). Can you tell me if this
> summary is correct, so that I can contact him?

It's basically the right idea, but some nitpicks:

> * The GPL says you can only link to non-GPL(*) components where those
>   components are standard system software (eg Motif).
>   ((*) non-GPL, or non-open source?)

You can only combine it with components for which you have the right to
distribute the source under the GPL without adding extra restrictions over the
GPL. So it's perfectly ok to include public domain or X11-style licensed code
for example.

Most DFSG free (ie "Open Source") license will likely qualify but not all.
While the the GPL is conservative and prohibits "any" restrictions, the DFSG
is liberal and prohibits only specific types of restrictions. So for example
the MPL and the BSD licenses which impose restrictions that don't violate the
DFSG would still conflict with the GPL. (The BSD advertising clause is
actually a point of contention. I believe some claim it's unenforceable and
this somehow makes it compatible.)

> * MySQL is clearly not standard system software, and non-free
> 
> Therefore the GPL as applied to www-mysql is invalid. To fix this,
> the upstream maintainer should say that the software is GPL,
> with the added exception that you may link to mysql.

It's not strictly speaking "invalid". It just doesn't give permission for
people to redistribute www-mysql, which is probably not what the authors
intended. 

I urge people to make it clear to the authors that the GPL is working in their
interest as intended: it is defending their software from being distributed
without source or under a restrictive license.  

greg


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