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Re: GPL and linking (was: Urgently need GPL compatible libsnmp5-dev replacement :-()

On 5/6/05, Raul Miller <moth.debian@gmail.com> wrote:
> On 5/5/05, Michael K. Edwards <m.k.edwards@gmail.com> wrote:
> > Sorry to spam debian-devel -- and with a long message containing long
> > paragraphs too, horrors! -- in replying to this.
> Who is sorry?  How sorry?
> Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that this sorry-ness is not
> something that matters enough to you to avoid posting long and
> elliptical messages to debian-devel.

As I wrote, debian-devel is where the "Urgently need GPL compatible
libsnmp5-dev replacement" discussion is happening.  Andrew's somewhat
disingenuous "This part of the thread belongs on -legal"
notwithstanding, it had not previously been moved to -legal, just
copied there.

I was uncertain whether to remove -devel from my reply, but eventually
decided to leave it as it was; was there some onus on me to remove
-devel?  I am hardly a major source of -devel noise, by message count
or by bandwidth.  But perhaps -devel is reserved for short, erroneous,
discourteous messages?  (That's not really aimed at Raul, actually.)

> > > On Wed, May 04, 2005 at 11:51:51PM -0500, Peter Samuelson wrote:
> > > The GPL simply defers to copyright law to define "derivative work".
> > Actually, it tries to define "work based on the Program" in terms of
> > "derivative work under copyright law", and then incorrectly
> > paraphrases that definition.
> It's probably worth noting that "derivative work" and "work based on the
> Program" are spelled differently.  What's not clear, to me, is whether the
> word "that" refers to the "d" phrase or the "w" phrase.  Careful study sheds
> no insight into this burning issue.
> [If I read the GPL, I can't find where it paraphrases the "d" phrase.  On the
> other hand I can't figure out how someone could claim that the GPL
> incorrectly paraphrases the "w" phrase.]

Second sentence in Section 0:  The "Program", below, refers to any
such program or work, and a "work based on the Program" means either
the Program or any derivative work under copyright law: that is to
say, a work containing the Program or a portion of it, either verbatim
or with modifications and/or translated into another language.

As I read it, the phrase after the colon is a paraphrase of the
"ether/or" clause it follows, i. e., an attempt to restate it in
layman's terms.  And it's incorrect, as I explained, and for which I
have previously given references to treaty, several countries'
statutes, and lots of case law, in messages on -legal to which you
responded (generally constructively and courteously, I might add).

Ignoring the actual definintion and taking the paraphrase would mean
that the largest possible "work" containing GPL licensed material
would still be subject to GPL constraints (modulo the "mere
aggregation" clause, which, if it has legal meaning, applies only to
Section 2).  And yes, anything copyrightable under the Berne
Convention is a "work", including (for instance) a Debian CD set. 
That's obviously problematic, it's obviously not what any GPL licensee
believes (GPL section 3 0wns my distro?  yeah, right), and it's
obviously not a reading any court would accept, even absent the rule
of construction against the offeror.

> > There has been so much silliness written about this topic ...
> Agreed.

Lots of sarcasm and cheap shots, too; of which I have sometomes been
guilty as well.  But they do not constitute negative silliness, and
are not something I have associated with your by-line in the past.

- Michael

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