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Re: Eclipse 3.0 Running ILLEGALY on Kaffe

Andrew Suffield writes:

> On Thu, Jan 13, 2005 at 01:28:42PM -0500, Michael Poole wrote:
> > The DFSG supposedly allow users to use Debian-distributed software in
> > any way they wish.  The theme of this thread seems to be that some
> > people believe run-time linking of an application against a GPLed
> > library, when there are other implementations of the library API,
> > makes the application a derivative of the library.
> No, damnit. A work may or may not be a derivative, and that has got
> nothing to do with whether it is linked at run-time, at build-time, or
> not at all. Derivation is an intrinsic property of the work. No
> quantity of mechanical transformations on the work will affect whether
> or not it is a derivative (although some may generate *new* objects
> that are derivatives or aggregates; there are some corner cases where
> the source is free but the binaries are not).
> All the business about linking and dependencies are just rules of
> thumb to help figure out whether something is a derivative.

That was my understanding as well.  From earlier in the thread:

Lewis Jardine:
> In this case, writing against Y is creative, but when the end-user
> runs the program, is Java's run-time-linking creative or mechanical?

Brian Thomas Sniffen:
> What Java's doing is mechanical.  But what Debian *instructed* it to
> do, by shipping Y and the Java run-time together such that when you
> ask for Y to be installed, you get Y and the JVM... that's clearly
> creative.

Lewis Jardine:
> Does this change when the program could also be linked with A, W, or
> Z, all of which implement the same ABI?

Brian Thomas Sniffen:
> No.  But it does matter which one Debian ships it with.

I think the disagreement is over what effect Debian's choice has.

It is not clear to me that saying either "Y depends on the JVM" or "Y
depends on Kaffe or some Java interpreter" is creative within the
meaning of copyright law or that it creates any sort of derivative
work.  However, it does seem like clear copyright abuse for a Kaffe
contributor to sue a DD because that DD identified Kaffe as fitting
the program's JVM requirement.

Would it make any legal difference if the package Depends: kaffe |
sablevm | java-runtime?  It seems easy enough to use the LGPLed
sablevm if kaffe's GPL is thought to pose problems.

It also seems FUDish to claim that the possibility of such a lawsuit
should deter us from doing something given Debian's software patent

Michael Poole

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