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Re: GPL and command-line libraries

Brian Thomas Sniffen wrote:

But in the case of the DFSG and the GPL it does. Saying "You may not
distribute this work along with a frame designed to hold it" violates

But saying "You may only distribute this work with a frame designed to
hold it if that frame is freely distributed" is Free.

No it isn't. DFSG 9 ("For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be free software.")

And the GPL does not attempt to cover the frame; the GPL explicitly
defines a "work based on the Program" as "either the Program or any
derivative work under copyright law."

And it further clarifies *that* to be "a work containing the Program
or a portion of it, either verbatim or with modifications".  So if you
ld or tar some programs together, you now have a work containing the
Program verbatim.

The full sentense is:
    The "Program", below, refers to any such program or work, and a
    "work based on the Program" means either the Program or any
    derivative work under copyright law: that is to say, a work
    containing the Program or a portion of it, either verbatim or with
    modifications and/or translated into another language. (Hereinafter,
    translation is included without limitation in the term

I think "that is to say" introduces a laymans explanation of what a derivative work is. In order to accept the alternate explanation --- that it seeks to define derivative work --- we'd have to (a) disregard its explicit definition as a "derivative work under copyright law" and (b) grant the FSF powers generally reserved to congress and the courts.

Further, we can not say that tar can create a work containing the program because copyright law concerns itself only with creative works; tar can not do such a thing. Instead, we just have two seperate works.

I would *almost* say you're right.  It seems very close.  Your
argument is persuasive.  But there is an assumption you're making
which you haven't made explicit: that any combination of two works is
either a derivative work, involving creative addition, or else is mere
aggregation.  This is the fallacy of the excluded middle.

The middle is excluded by Title 17 Sec. 106, not me. For a literary work (such as a computer program), there are three exclusive rights listed: To copy it, to distribute it, and to create derivative works.

Some works are neither derivative works nor mere aggregation; they
might be functional combinations, for example.

Yes, but it's a copyright licence; under copyright law, has anything other than mere aggregation happened?

Which clause of the GPL would I be violating by distributing such a "functional combination" with one part GPL'd and the other part not? And why isn't Debian violating this same clause?

Or they might be
anthologies, in which creative effort has been expended in the
selection of works.

Creating an anthology isn't listed as one of the copyright holder's exclusive rights; presumably, if he grants you the right to reproduce and distribute, you may create an anthology. (Remember, the copyright over an anthology only applies to the anthology itself, not to the individual works)

If I tar up
Emacs and a bunch of its elisp files, certainly that's not mere

http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2002/11/msg00217.html contains a quoted message from RMS on a similar subject.

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