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Re: GPL and linking

On 5/11/05, Michael K. Edwards <m.k.edwards@gmail.com> wrote:
> Fine.  I have been goaded into rebutting this specimen.

Most of this is focused on contract law issues.  I've written a
separate post suggesting the obvious alternative (Tort law)

> > 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.
> Wrongo.  The GPL grants you license to copy, modify, and distribute A
> under the applicable terms.  Whether by "mere aggregation" or by
> reductio ad absurdum, you may distribute some collections containing
> A; and there is no basis in the text of the GPL for enforcing on the
> licensee any division into some permitted collections and some
> forbidden collections.  So B may be distributed so long as the
> applicable covenants of specific performance with respect to A are
> honored.

I'm assuming that we're talking about a case involving binaries for the
work A+B, which means we're talking about a case where either

1) The applicable terms are being followed, and B is available under
GPL terms

1a) B is merely aggregated with A in the context of these binaries, or

2) The applicable terms are not being followed, and B is not available
under GPL terms, and the work A+B is a significant work in the context
of copyright law.

> > 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
> > definition of "work based on the Program", that you're doing something wrong.
> >
> > Does that make sense?
> No. 

Ok, I'm looking for how you think this doesn't make sense.

> Copyright law applies to the copying of A. 

True.  And to the copying of B.  And, to the copying of A+B.

> The distributor of B claims license under the GPL to copy A.  

This requires that B do so under certain terms, which is I think
where our dispute lies, but continuing...

> The court construes the terms of that license, settles all other 
> relevant questions of fact, and either decides that the plaintiff 
> is entitled to some relief or that he is not.  

No disagreement here.

> It is then so ordered, and there's a path for appeals on
> points of law.  "Prohibited by law" doesn't mean jack.

It's true that the court can (and will) interpret the law.

However, "Prohibited by law" does in fact have meaning.


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