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Re: On interpreting licences (was: KDE not in Debian?)

> > > So please don't suggest any more that people are trying to evade
> > > copyright law when in fact they are trying (maybe by jumping through
> > > hoops) to abide by the conditions put forth in the licence(s).
> > 
> > Are you now claiming that it's legal to distribute kghostscript?

On Mon, Feb 14, 2000 at 03:21:44PM +0100, Marc van Leeuwen wrote:
> Yes, definitely, if you are distributing sources; from your remarks I conclude
> that even you would agree to this. One could include scripts to compile and
> link (say statically, just to get the worst case) those sources onto a
> complete executable; since all the tools necessary to do that could also be
> (and are in fact) legally distributed by the same distributor, the effect is
> that this executable will be identical, bit by bit, to an executable that the
> distributor could assemble. So the exact same effect is achieved, although
> slightly less efficiently, as if the distributor had directly distributed that
> executable file. But, we agree, the latter would certainly not be permitted.

If the exact same affect is achieved -- if no user intervention is
required -- then there's no legal protection gained by automatically
building the executables for the customer on their machine.  You'd still
be distributing executables, you'd just be using a different technology
to deliver them.

> Probably your question was about another method of distribution
> than in source form. But instead of diving for the umpteenth time
> into matters about which we (and many others) have already amply
> demonstrated to have differences of opinion, let me just restate that
> on which we do seem to agree. If our goal is to give users access
> to an executable version of kghostscript, then there is a reliable
> method of doing that (distributing sources) that satisfies all the
> requirements in the relevant licences, while there is another method
> (distributing the statically linked executable file directly) that
> does not satisfy all requirements, in particular not those of the GPL.
> We arrived at this conclusion not by trying to evade copyright law,
> but merely by reading carefully the conditions of the GPL.

There's a difference between simply distributing GPLed sources and
distributing the sources as a part of a system which automatically builds
working executables.  In the latter case it's pretty obvious that you
are distributing executables.

But I will grant that this is not a technique which linux distributors
are currently using to distribute kde executables.

> Now apart from distributing sources and distributing a statically linked
> executable, there are other methods to give users access to an executable,
> varying in the amount of work do be done at the recipients end. Offhand I can
> think of distributing compiled but unlinked object files, or distributing
> dynamically linked object files; maybe other possibilities exist as well.

Please take a look at
for a historical example of shipping unlinked object files.


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