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Re: GPL and linking

On 5/11/05, Peter Samuelson <peter@p12n.org> wrote:
> > The GPL did not use the word "equals".
> > Neither "that is to say" nor "namely" are equal to "equals".
> Are we to understand that your argument hinges on such fine semantic
> distinctions as claiming that "that is to say" does not connote
> equivalency?  Have you nothing better with which to prop up your point
> of view?

I'm disputing an argument which seems to require a number of such fine points.
It is difficult for me to raise such disputes without mentioning the the points 

However, I can present my point of view without resorting to this argument:

Let's say that we have a court case which involves some contested GPLed work.
How should we proceed?

First, let's consider a work which doesn't have any binaries.  This would be no
different from any other copyright case -- you have to show that the work in
question is copyrighted under the GPL, and you'd have to show that the terms
of the GPL are being violated.  This should be relatively simple, and we can
neglect sections 2 and 3 (which are clearly being complied with if the rest of
the license is being followed).

Now let's imagine that we've got a case which involves binaries.  What do we
have to do?

First, we need exhibits: the sources, and the binaries.  Out of
consideration for
the court, we want to pick examples which are as simple as possible while 
representing all of the important contested issues.  So let's imagine we have
Exhibit A (the sources) and Exhibit B (the binary).  [We need to also show that
this binary is representative of something which is being distributed,
but that's
not really different from what you have to do in other copyright cases, so I'll
ignore that part.]

Second, we need to show that Exhibit B is derived from Exhibit A.  Again, we
want to present this in a simple and easily understandable form, and we
want to also present complete information.

Once we've shown that B is derived from A, we can start examining the terms
of the GPL to make sure that they are being followed.

For example, let's say now that we're the defending party, and we want to show
that the mere aggregation clause applies.  To do this, we would show that 
the disputed work could be replaced by something trivial, and that having done
so, the program is still the same program -- we might do this by showing that
it still has the same behavior.

Switching sides again, if someone asserted that the mere aggregation clause
applied, and used program behavior to make that assertion, and I believed that
mere aggregation did not apply, I would show how the program failed to
operate in some independent context, with the disputed section removed.

Is that clear enough?

Now, back to the argument: an argument has been raised that the GPL is flawed
because a "work based on the Program" defined in two parts, where the first
part asserts that "work based on the Program" is a derivative work.  The
assertion has been made that the second part of that definition is meaningless.

Let's assume that this assertion is true, that the second part of that
is meaningless.  Let's further assume that I can construct an example case
where a work isn't covered by the GPL because the second part of that
definition is meaningless.  What would that mean?

Since Section 0 says that the GPL grants you license to distribute this work,
and since there's no part of the GPL that grants you license where Section 0
does not apply, in our hypothetical case we would have shown that the GPL
does not grant you license to distribute this work.

At this point, either:

A) Copyright law doesn't apply, so it doesn't matter that you don't
have license, or

B) The GPL doesn't apply, so it doesn't matter that the GPL doesn't grant you
license, of

C) Distributing the work is prohibited by law.

My argument is that if you reach C) by ignoring the second half of the
of "work based on the Program", that you're doing something wrong.

Does that make sense?


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