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Re: gens License Check - Non-free

Josh Triplett <josh.trip@verizon.net>:

> > So before Wine was created, anything which uses a Windows library was a
> > derivative of Windows?
> Yes.

There are so many theories on this subject that I am perpetually
confused, but I don't think that is what is usually claimed in the
case of GPL libraries.

I think the usual claim is that the program that uses the library plus
the library is a derivative of the library (which is obviously true)
and also a single work even when the parts are distributed separately
(which is at least plausible).

In the case of a typical Windows library that's not a problem because:

1. Only Microsoft and its agents are distributing the library.

2. The library is not available from public servers.

3. There is explicit or implicit permission to link the library with
arbitrary programs.

However, in the case of a a GPL library it is possible to argue that
the person distributing the program is encouraging people to fetch the
library from a public server and link it with the program, and
therefore that person is in effect distributing the GPL library in an
unlicensed manner. There are all kinds of hypothetical circumstances
that might strengthen or weaken that argument. For example:

1. The argument seems stronger in a case where the program and the
library are being distributed by the same person or by people who are
in some way working together.

2. The argument seems weaker in a case where the program is being
distributed in source form only together with an explanation that the
program is for research use only until there is a compatibly licensed
substitute for the library.

Obviously I have no idea in what circumstances the argument might be
accepted by a court in what jurisdictions, but I think that's roughly
what the usual argument is, and it doesn't directly imply anything
about the situation with a typical Windows library.

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