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

On Thu, Jun 21, 2001 at 12:18:04AM +0200, Henning Makholm wrote:
> I don't see any minor or major copyright violations in this scenario:
>   1) F produces a library L and releases it under the GPL
>   2) A produces a program P that links to L.
>   3) A distributes the source code for P (but not for L) til B
>   4) B gets L from F and compiles and uses P.

I'm going to feel free to make up detail where you've left things

[1] P has no copyright on it, so it doesn't have a GPL copyright on it.
[2] P requires L and won't compile without it.
[3] A is distributing P to many people, not just B.
[4] A includes with P instructions on how to compile P.

Then: P is the source code for a program which includes L.  A is
instructing people to download L (if necessary) to compile P.

This is a clear attempt to evade the copyright on L.  A went to
considerable effort to design this situation.  It didn't "just

> As far as I understand you RMS's claim would be that A is somehow
> violating the GPL even though he never copies the library it applies
> to.

Oh, come on -- he's copying it by reference, in the compilation
instructions.  But that's really irrelevant:

All that's needed for "contributory infringement" is that A make it easy
for people to make illegal copies.  And, any distribution which results
in working copies of P clearly involves illegal copies of L.  And, since
many people are getting these copies it's clearly not a case of fair use.

> I cannot see how "contributory infringement" applies here, because
> nobody in the story copies anything they are not explicitly allowed to
> copy. In fact, nobody copies anything they didn't write themselves!

I think you're arguing that binaries shouldn't be bound by the copyright
on their source.  Either that, or you're arguing that the person who
compiled the binaries must be the person who wrote them.  Either that
or you're claiming that the people creating running copies of P aren't
making any copies.

That's like arguing that if you distribute a compressed music file
you're not distributing the music, and that the music "just appears"
when it's uncompressed, without it having been distributed.


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