Re: Q: Combining proprietary code and GPL for in-house use
I haven't made up my mind which side I'm on, but here are some more
Raul Miller <email@example.com>:
> 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
It certainly is a clear attempt to evade the copyright on L, but that
doesn't mean it's not a successful attempt. Just because A's actions
go against the spirit of what F intended doesn't mean it's illegal.
Law has to be more precise than that.
> > 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.
What are these "illegal copies of L" and why are they illegal?
Are you talking about the memory image of the process? Creating a
memory image is what you normally do to run a program, so I'm not sure
that this counts as copying. Or you do you mean the copy on disc,
which is totally unchanged since before B loaded P onto his sytem, so
why should it suddenly become illegal when used with P?
I am opposed to allowing things like memory images count as copies
with respect to copyright law as that would allow copyright owners to
restrict how data is used.
I think I tend to believe that the GPL might be practically equivalent
to the LGPL in the hands of someone who is willing to resort to a
little trickery. However, I am willing to believe this may be a bad
thing, so I am very open to coherent arguments that justify the claim
that "if you tell people to use a program FOO and BAR linked together,
you're combining them into a larger program".
I suppose that means that someone who publishes the glue code and the
instructions for linking a GPL program with a GPL-incompatible program
is violating the copyright on the GPL program EVEN IF THEY NEVER HAD A
COPY OF IT LET ALONE MADE A COPY OF IT!
I have in the past suggested that it might be possible to combine and
generalise the GPL and the LGPL into a single licence that talks about
functional units with well-defined interfaces rather than about
"programs" and "libraries", however, I don't think I ever got as far
as a precise formulation of this idea.