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Re: GPL and command-line libraries



In message <20041127162041.GA3874@muffin>, Wesley W. Terpstra <wesley@terpstra.ca> writes
As far as I can see, I haven't misunderstood it at all;
what you describe is what's happening here.

Mr. Wontshare has taken my work and integrated it as a critical component
into his project which he then ships together with my work. Yes, he supplies
my source code, but not the source code of the rest of the combined project.
He has taken a modified version of my library proprietary. His project is
a modified/enhanced version of my library and his own work.

>Is this _not_ a derivative work?
That's a factual question.  It's most likely dependent on whether his
program simply used your library as a "black box", or whether his program
was really based on mucking about with the internals of your code in a way
which really, absolutely, involved using parts of your code.

In my case, it would be a 'black box'.
So, perhaps this is not a 'derivative work' in the meaning of copyright law.
However, he still needed a grant of licence from me to ship my software.

Let's give a non-hypothetical example. Mr Wontshare wants to use readline.

Note that readline is a GPL'd library (it is *not* LGPL, and this is important).

So he links his code using the editline library. He also includes all the .o files, a makefile, and instructions on where to get hold of readline.

The customer loads Mr Wontshare's software, loads readline, and runs make.

The resulting executable is now non-distributable, because it contains readline, therefore must be distributed with source, but the customer has no source to distribute! However, the software IS legal and the customer CAN legally use it.

So Mr Wontshare could easily get round the fact that your library is GPL and write his work based on your library. BUT it would be pretty obvious to the customer (because Mr Wontshare is forced to make the customer jump through hoops) that that is what he is doing.

Hopefully that then makes them query what is going on, and they won't be keen to do business with Mr Wontshare.

Cheers,
Wol
--
Anthony W. Youngman - wol at thewolery dot demon dot co dot uk
HEX wondered how much he should tell the Wizards. He felt it would not be a
good idea to burden them with too much input. Hex always thought of his reports
as Lies-to-People.
The Science of Discworld : (c) Terry Pratchett 1999



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