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Re: [GPL] No linking with proprietary programs: where?

On Tue, Mar 14, 2000 at 04:23:57PM +0100, Stephane Bortzmeyer wrote:
> On Tuesday 14 March 2000, at 10 h 6, the keyboard of Brian Ristuccia 
> <brian@ristuccia.com> wrote:
> > Let's not be silly here.
> ...
> > I'm tired of hearing about it. 
> Brian, I wasn't trying to raise a flamewar, and I absolutely agree with your 
> analysis. I was just motivated by:
> - pure curiosity ("everybody says so, but is it true?"),
> - practical limits (a friend of mine created a company to sell an on-line 
> game; they want to release the client as GPL and not the server; they wonder 
> if it's legal, since these two programs are not linked, they are just 
> connected by the network).

The problem is mostly with the definitions of interfaces, the AOL client
case thread (in debian-legal, -devel or -private, I don't remember) being
a good example. IMHO, even if I consider such a client not free (because
it depends on a non-free server), the client itself is considered DFSG
compliant. So, the difference is mainly on the communication level,
making a library link is close enough to be considered a true dependance
but every other communication link are simply fair use of the program.

This lead to some problem where you can use a GPL library if you put
a GPL scripting interface over it and use the script interface in a
non-GPL program. For sure, this use will be contested but lawyers could
make good money by disputing such a case for years. This even more
important with the growing popularity of Corba and other Distributed
Object Technologies. The next major version of the GPL should address
this problem IIRC.

All IMHO, the issue can't be acheive only by clearly defining the
usability and purpose of the program, which let you say that such a
program is free if it achieve all its functionalities without
depending on any non-free components. Also, you have to explicitely
tell what's can be considered a fair use of the program/library by
other programs without being considered linked to them. Both points
are hard to specify precisely and correctly, without affecting the
usability of the program/library in the real "not completely free"

I'm not sure the DFSG prevent us against such abuses of the freeness
of a program. However, it's only guidelines (contrarely to the OSD)
and we are free to interpret it the way we want (and even modify it
when needed); we should never take something "au pied de la lettre"
(sorry don't know the right translation, it means "exactly the way it
written, without considering the intensions of the author.").

just my 2 pennies.

Fabien Ninoles        Chevalier servant de la Dame Catherine des Rosiers
aka Corbeau aka le Veneur Gris               Debian GNU/Linux maintainer
E-mail:                                                    fab@tzone.org
WebPage:                                    http://www.tzone.org/~fabien
RSA PGP KEY [E3723845]: 1C C1 4F A6 EE E5 4D 99  4F 80 2D 2D 1F 85 C1 70

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