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Re: Bug#183860: Many texi files under GFDL use texinfo.tex under GPL

On Tue, 2003-12-30 at 22:10, Branden Robinson wrote:
> On Wed, Dec 24, 2003 at 10:18:19AM -0500, Richard Stallman wrote:
> >     Many (all?) GNU texinfo manuals that are licensed under the GFDL do an:
> > 
> > 	    \input texinfo
> > 
> >     According to the comments at the top of texinfo.tex, texinfo is 
> >     licensed under the GPL, version 2 or later.
> > 
> > The texinfo.tex file is an implementation of Texinfo.
> > Documents written in Texinfo can be licensed in any fashion;
> > they do not have to be licensed under the GPL.
> I'm sorry, but I am little confused.  GNU readline is one implementation
> of the readline interface, which has also been implemented in the
> "editline" library, as I recall.
> But the FSF has objected in the past to programs which used the readline
> API being licensed in a manner incompatible with the GNU GPL (I believe
> I am thinking of ncftp in this instance[1]).
> Can you help me to understand the distinction between an executable
> using a shared library (which is functional material) and a TeX file
> using macros defined by another TeX file (which is also functional
> material)?

The FSF assert that dynamic linking is subject to the same licensing as
static linking, but I have never felt that this is a tenable position. 
As far as I am aware, you cannot copyright the API, but only the actual
code.  If I produced a libreadline clone with the same API as the FSF's
version but with no use of their code, it would satisfy the dynamic
linkage without any violation of libreadline's licence; therefore the
linking program cannot be said to incorporate the library in the same
way as it would if it were statically linked.  So how can dynamic
linking be subject to the library's licence at all?

If I distribute a binary without libraries but accompanied by a notice
that it requires FSF libreadline.so.4 or an equivalent (of the same name
and major version, of course), can that be said to incorporate
libreadline?  I cannot see that it does, but that is actually how we
distribute programs, since any shared library can be replaced by
different code with the same interface.

Oliver Elphick                                Oliver.Elphick@lfix.co.uk
Isle of Wight, UK                             http://www.lfix.co.uk/oliver
GPG: 1024D/3E1D0C1C: CA12 09E0 E8D5 8870 5839  932A 614D 4C34 3E1D 0C1C
     "Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love 
      thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto 
      you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do 
      good to them that hate you, and pray for them which 
      despitefully use you, and persecute you;"          
                                     Matthew 5:43,44 

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