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Re: GPL scripts with a GPL-incompatible interpreter

On Fri, Dec 13, 2002 at 10:05:09AM -0800, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:
> Steve Langasek <vorlon@netexpress.net> writes:
> > Does the argument that a script is "just data" really hold water legally?
> > I would think they are "just data" in the same sense that all binary
> > executables are "just data" to a kernel; yet the vendors of proprietary
> > Unices have always gone out of their way to make sure GPL software is not
> > shipped together with their kernel, in order to take advantage of the
> > GPL's "OS component" exception.

> That's exactly what the text says in fact, in qualifying the "just
> data" statement.

I'm sorry, I'm not sure if your comments support or contradict my
interpretation.  By "the text", do you mean the text of the GPL, or the
text of the FAQ?  The GPL doesn't talk about data at all, and the only
qualification in the FAQ is with reference to using GPL-incompatible
bindings from a GPL script.

My concern is not with bindings (most PHP *bindings* seem to be
GPL-compatible), but with the interpreter itself; I don't see anything in
the GPL that states unequivocally that distributing a GPL script together
with a GPL-incompatible interpreter is acceptable.  Interpreters seem to
fall into a gap in the source code definition of section three, somewhere
between "all the source code for all modules it contains, plus associated
interface definition files, plus the scripts used to control compilation
and installation of the executable" and "the major components (compiler,
kernel, and so on) of the operating system on which the executable runs".
If an exception is needed for the compiler and kernel, is an exception
not also needed for an interpreter?

Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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