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Re: The GPL and you

On Mon, Sep 01, 2003 at 09:58:00AM -0700, Daniel Isacc Walker wrote:
> On Sun, 31 Aug 2003, Anthony DeRobertis wrote:
> >
> > On Sunday, Aug 31, 2003, at 18:54 US/Eastern, Daniel Isacc Walker wrote:
> >
> > > 	I use talkfilters data structures and API in my code. Is
> > > that a derivate work? Everything else I've read indicates that it
> > > isn't..
> >
> > We had a rather recent discussion about this, I believe in the context
> > of perl's dbd mysql stuff. In short, I happen to agree with you; others
> > on this list may agree or disagree, but Debian's policy seems to be
> > paranoia: Assume that is a derivative work, in part because the FSF
> > says so.
> 	That's interesting. In the Wine community the majority opinion is
> that the Win32 API and data structures are not copyrightable. My opinion
> is derived mainly from my work with Wine. Since the Win32 API is so vast
> (100's of functions and structures) I would think if header files are
> copyrightable then the Win32 headers must be copyrighted by Microsoft.
> As far as I know, Microsoft hasn't attacked Wine for using the API .

The common interpretation runs like this:

An API is not copyrightable. However, you can't have a hypothetical
license either. There must be _at least one_ implementation of the API
which will permit your program to function usefully, and which has an
appliable license, in order for you to use it.

So, you can't create a proprietary program that links to a GPLed
library and distribute the result - this is clearly a derivative work
of the GPLed library - but if there's a MIT/X11 implementation of the
same library available, you can use that instead. Which one people
decide to actually use on their systems is not your concern.

Needless to say, you cannot play silly buggers with this and argue
your way around the GPL. It's either a derivative work (because it
needs *that* library) or it isn't (because this other one will do

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ |
 `. `'                          |
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