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Re: Q: Combining proprietary code and GPL for in-house use

> > > For the sake of argument, and to keep this discussion focused, let's
> > > assume you wrote your own compatible header files.

Raul Miller <moth@debian.org>:
> > If your code uses nothing from the library, there's nothing left to
> > discuss.

On Tue, Jun 19, 2001 at 09:54:40PM +0100, Edmund GRIMLEY EVANS wrote:
> Like I said, some people, including, I think, RMS, think that if you
> tell people to link your program with a GPL library then you are
> in effect creating an unlicensed derived work even if you didn't
> distribute the library yourself.

Of course.

The bit pattern on the media you distribute doesn't have to match the
bit pattern which exists on the user's machine after installation.

The courts aren't likely to care whether customers used gunzip, gcc,
or winrar to install the program.

> Other people disagree, of course.

Which means nothing in and of itself, of course.

> If you like, consider a continuum of cases. At one extreme, you
> distribute a self-installing CD containing both the proprietary
> code and the GPL library it uses: obviously forbidden? At the other
> extreme, you give people anon CVS access to source code that some
> people choose to link with a GPL library in the privacy of their own
> home: obviously allowed?

Basically, at some point in your continuum, "fair use" comes into play.

Anything involving mass distribution (which, presumably, is what you
were talking about at your other extreme) doesn't fall under fair use.

> So what if you distribute two separate CDs? What if one of the
> CDs is distributed by a sister company? What if the proprietary
> code can/cannot be used without the GPL library? What if there are
> alternative libraries? What if you provide instructions for how to
> link the source code with the library? It's not so much a continuum as
> a whole lattice of intermediate possibilities and I really don't know
> how to distinguish which ones are forbidden.

And, just to make it fun, a court can make a completely "arbitrary"
decision [made on other, unanticipated criteria].  This kind of complexity
is fundamental to how lawyers make their money.


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