[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Bug#189164: libdbd-mysql-perl uses GPL lib, may be used by GPL-incompatible apps

On Friday, May 23, 2003, at 09:52 AM, Brian T. Sniffen wrote:
Let's take a concrete example: apache-ssl. In particular, it's postint.
It uses "adduser", which is under the GPL. It also uses update-rc.d,
also under the GPL. So, as above, we have to say the postinst is
available under the GPL. However, it also uses
/usr/sbin/ssl-certificate, which uses OpenSSL. It is well-known that the
GPL and the OpenSSL license are not compatible.

Is the above legal? If so, why?

I'm not a lawyer -- but I think distribution of apache-ssl.postinst
must be distributed under the terms of the GPL.  As such, it can't be
distributed by others without an OpenSSL exception or a license which
grants a superset of the freedoms of the GPL.

OK, then I take it you're in favor filing seriouss bug against ftp.debian.org asking for the removal of apache-ssl and *many* more packages like it.

	A ''derivative work'' is a work based upon one or
	more preexisting works, such as a translation,
	musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization,
	motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction,
	abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which a
	work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work
	consisting of editorial revisions, annotations,
	elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole,
	represent an original work of authorship, is a
	''derivative work''. (Title 17 USC, Sec. 101)

It's hard to see how a shell script could be a derivative work of grep
under that definition. I don't think the shell script is an
transformation, recasting, or adaption of grep. Or a modification.

It certainly can be.  For example, consider the shell script
greppager, which simply runs grep and pipes the output through
$PAGER.  That's a program constructed as a transformation and
recasting of grep.

No it isn't; such a simple program has no copyrightable part.

  That it includes grep by reference rather than by
copying shouldn't matter

Yes it should. That's why its COPYright law.

-- this is the heart of the FSF's "linking is
modification" argument.

Yes, and I think they go to far in that argument. A line has to be drawn somewhere; otherwise, think of visiting a non-free webapp with a GPL browser. Or a GPL browser with the default home page set to a non-free webapp --- Google, for example.

  Greppager is a work based on a pre-existing
work, consisting of elaborations and other modifications which, as a
whole, represents an original work of authorship.

No, it does not represent an original work of authorship. It looks something like this:

grep "$@" | $PAGER

There is absolutely nothing to copyright in there; it is not an original work of authorship.

I don't need to edit the source of a computer program to modify the

I disagree (excepting binary patching, and other tricks like that, of course).

  If my work couldn't have
existed in the same form without another work, my work is derivative
of that work.

That is a very, very, very broad definition of derivative work. Under that definition, Apple would of EASILY won its UI lawsuit against Microsoft; the court, however, found the opposite. Care to explain?

To further clarify, given a copyrightable program P which implements
an algorithm A(x), a program Q which implements B(A(x)) by nontrivial
use of P is a derivative work of P.

Why? All Q uses from P is the algorithm A, which is not copyrightable.

  Put simply, if it's clear that
you wrote Q intending it to wrap P, Q is a derivative work of P.

No. There is no case law on the subject; and what little there is certainly doesn't say its clear.

If I can write Q without reference to any copyrightable parts of P, then it is difficult to argue that Q is a derivative work of P; instead, it is very similar to a proper clean-room reverse engineering job --- which is legal.

(and it's most likely not
derivative of the standard, because the procedures expressed in the
standard are not copyrighted, only their expression there).

Nothing besides expressions can be copyrighted ever, even for programs. If its a derivative of a program to make use of its documented interfaces, then it is a derivative of the standard to do the same.

Reply to: