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Re: gens License Check - Non-free

Ken Arromdee wrote:
> On Tue, 8 Jun 2004, Josh Triplett wrote:
>>That is commonly done for packages that allow distribution as source
>>only, or do not allow distribution of binaries built from modified
>>source.  It does not get around the GPL's requirements.  Quoting from
>>http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/pragmatic.html :
>>>Consider GNU Objective C. NeXT initially wanted to make this front
>>>end proprietary; they proposed to release it as .o files, and let
>>>users link them with the rest of GCC, thinking this might be a way
>>>around the GPL's requirements. But our lawyer said that this would
>>>not evade the requirements, that it was not allowed. And so they made
>>>the Objective C front end free software.
> On the other hand, their lawyer is an interested party.  It's like trusting a
> MPAA lawyer to interpret the DMCA for you.

Granted; nice analogy. :)

> The FSF's position here is well-known, but has some odd implications.  For
> instance, if you write code that requires Windows libraries, it is a derivative
> work of Windows, and thus Microsoft can at any time prohibit you from
> distributing it.  (Note that in this scenario the OS exception won't help
> since it would be Microsoft, not the author of any GPL code you use, who would
> be claiming the copyright violation.)

That is a reasonable implication.  I don't know whether licenses are
revocable by default unless stated to be irrevocable, or if they are
irrevocable by default unless stated to be revocable (I think the latter
is true), but either way, it is quite possible for non-free software to
have a revocable license, and for that license to affect derivative
works of that software.  Basically, non-free software could impose any
arbitrary restriction it wants (assuming that contract licenses are
valid).  However, software which is written using a portable library
which works on many different platforms, including Windows, would not be
affected by this.  Furthermore, the existence of wine and winelib
provides a reasonable buffer against claims that a given Windows
application is a derived work of Windows libraries, as long as the given
application works with wine.

Also, note that the Linux kernel includes an explicit exception for
works that simply make system calls; without that exception, software
that uses any system call specific to Linux would most likely be a
derived work of the kernel, and would fall under the GPL.

- Josh Triplett

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