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Re: Bug reports of DFSG violations are tagged 'lenny-ignore'?

Thomas Bushnell BSG wrote:
> On Thu, 2008-10-23 at 21:13 +0200, Vincent Danjean wrote:
> > Firmware and driver do not run on the same CPU. There is no 'linkage'
> > between them. With a client/server application, a GPL client does not
> > enforce the server to be GPL, even if client and server are tightly
> > coupled.
> That is not true.  It simply depends on whether they are one program or
> not, which is a human-level concept, and not a technical one.  There is
> no "magic boundary" at which the GPL would neve cross.
> For example, if you were to split GCC into two executables, one which
> parsed and generated intermediate code, and another which did
> optimization and codegen, the result would still be the one GCC, covered
> by the GPL.  And this is true even if you then write your own version of
> the first part, implementing your seekrit proprietary language: the GPL
> on the back end would require that the *whole program* be distributed
> under the GPL, any separation into different executables
> notwithstanding.

The FSF seems to disagree on this[1]:

    Can I release a non-free program that's designed to load a GPL-covered

    It depends on how the program invokes its plug-ins. For instance, if
    the program uses only simple fork and exec to invoke and communicate
    with plug-ins, then the plug-ins are separate programs, so the
    license of the plug-in makes no requirements about the main program.

The general idea seems to be that (at least the FSF) only linked modules
are considered as a "single program" and only in this case all parts
have to be GPL-compatible (not necessarily released under the GPL

Note that the GPL defines a covered work as "the unmodified Program or a
work based on the Program".  In my opinion this does *not* include a
program just calling the GPL-covered software (but then I'm neither a
lawyer nor particularly familiar with legal English).

Trying to extend this to separate executables would open a can of worms:
For example, is an IDE that includes the GCC compiler a "single work"
and must thus be released under the GPL?


[1] http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#NFUseGPLPlugins

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