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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 5/6/05, Michael K. Edwards <m.k.edwards@gmail.com> wrote:
> > 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.
> I believe you're objecting to the "that is to say" phrase, which restates what
> "work based on the Program": means.

Attempts to, anyway.

> > 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.
> Yes.  And that "either/or" clause says what "work based on the Program"
> means.

Yep.  That phrase is, in its entirety: "either the Program or any
derivative work under copyright law".  And that's the definition of
"work based on the Program" for the duration of the GPL, as far as I'm

> > 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).
> I disagree:
> "work based on the Program" is not the same thing as "derivative work".
> The definition of "work based on the Program" uses the "derivative
> work" concept, but builds on that concept.
> I think claiming they're equivalent is silly.

Right.  "either the Program or any derivative work under copyright
law" \superset "derivative work".  But collections containing the
Program don't fit.  "That is to say" introduces an (incorrect)
paraphrase -- not a further expansion of the category.  To read
otherwise is to do violence to both the grammar and the legal sense of
the definition; and as I wrote, would result in an unacceptable scope
for the license (any "work" containing GPL material, up to and
including an entire CD set and the shelf of books bundled with it).

People who say publicly and often enough that they accept the FSF
FAQ's statement that programs using GPL libraries must be released
under the GPL (
http://www.fsf.org/licensing/licenses/gpl-faq.html#IfLibraryIsGPL )
may well be estopped from arguing otherwise in court.  I prefer not to
be numbered among them.  (And no, before you say it, I'm not trolling
to build a defense for some court case.)  But that's completely
different from affecting the legal meaning of the license (see Linus's
LKML post again).

I'd be sorry to see, say, a GR swearing allegiance to the FSF FAQ;
that would probably estop Debian in perpetuity from linking GPL
against non-GPL, trigger the "automatic termation" provision
immediately and retrospectively due to any of a zillion inadvertent
build bugs in the past decade, and lead to the Death Of Debian (TM). 
But it wouldn't have any effect on what license terms I or any Debian
user or derivative would be obligated to accept.

- Michael

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