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

On Wed, Mar 15, 2000 at 10:23:46PM +0100, Tomasz Wegrzanowski wrote:
> Does it mean that obscurity of way of comunicating between two
> copyrighted works means anything for copyright laws ?

Only by means of creating dependencies between those works, to decide if the
whole work is derived from the single ones, or if it is mere aggregation.
> Where do you thing copyright law starts binding ?

I don't know. I think it depends a lot on the concrete situation. If
software A depends on software B to operate, and both are shipped as a
package, I don't think it matters much how the communication is achieved
technically. You are still thinking of technics, while law is more abstract

> > However, note that the output of a program is usually subject to copyright
> > law, so a pipe is legal if the license for the output allows usage of it.
> > The GPL explicitely does not restrict usage.
> No, program's output is not subject of copyright law.
> If it were, you couldn't write free software on MSnotepad,
> because files you made were belonging to MS.

You are misunderstanding me. The files you create with MSnotepad is not
really "output" of the program, because it only contains what you put in.
However, this is almost an entirely different issue. While I agree that with
msnotepad, the output is not copyrighted by MS, the issue is not that easy
to decide with output from compilers, code generators etc (bison, autoconf).

However, I did a mistake in my above sentence. It might be that relying on a
pipe is legally binding even if the output is licensed freely.
(This is only a special case of the point we talk about).

> > However, there is no difference between
> > calling kernel functions or library functions.
> So why do you think one can use proprietary kernel but couldn't use
> proprietary lib if headers were pd ?

I don't. The linux kernel however says:

   NOTE! This copyright does *not* cover user programs that use kernel
 services by normal system calls - this is merely considered normal use
 of the kernel, and does *not* fall under the heading of "derived work".

Linus Torvalds even grants the right to distribute binary kernel modules.
However, I would not let you.

Probably judges would grant the use of such system calls under fair use for
any commercial generic purpose proprietary kernel. I don't know.
> > You are thinking very strange.
> Thanks

Sorry, I didn't meant it as an offense. What I meant is that you don't go
all the way. You still focus on implementation details instead abstract
> > What you think is not restricted is actually
> > subject to restrictions but allowed because the licenses explicitely allow
> > it. Piping is restricted, but allowed as "use" by all free software licenses
> > (if you don't bundle the application and distribute them as a whole).
> > Calling kernel functions is restricted, but allowed by the linux kernel
> > license (or the other way round, by the GPL in the exception clause).
> Piping restricted ?
> This sounds like prohibiting storing two books on the shelve by its
> copyright.

It's generally ill-advised to compare books with software. However, no.
Two books on a shelve don't have a pipe connecting them.

Also, remember that I don't talk about use, only about distributing a "whole
work" consisting of two smaller works, the original, and the one that makes
use of the original by pipes, linking or whatever.

> You can do anything (ex: piping its output) but redistributing
> with software (anything) you have legally aquired.

You can don anything with GPL'ed software that is. It's a long time since I
read a shrink-wrap license, but they contain stuff like "don't change",
"don't disassemble", "only run one copy" etc.

We did not talk about specific licenses in this thread, but what I had in
mind was an original GPL'd work and a proprietary "on top" of it.
> And calling kernel is not legal because it is allowed by license,
> but because it is claimed to be *usage*.
>     (equals)
> not because license allows it, but because it isn't subject of copyright law.

Usage in general is subject to copyright law (the GPL gives you a very
free usage license, though).

I am at the end of my wits, though. All I can say is that I am not at all as
sure about this issue as you seem to be. Copyright law is quite complex. It
would be very interesting to get some case law on these issues, specifically
for free software licenses.


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