Re: GPL and Copyright Law (Was: Eclipse 3.0 Running ILLEGALY on Kaffe)
Etienne Gagnon wrote:
If, the Debian system includes a copy of Eclipse that is intended to run
on Kaffe, can we claim that both are "merely aggregated"? The answer is no.
There's quite some evidence of this. Can you install (normally) the
Eclipse package and run it without Kaffe, on your Debian system (as
defined above: main, 100% free software)? No.
Let me ask you some tough questions, then, instad of wiping all of your
Can you interpret shell scripts without GNU Bash? Can you interpret
makefiles without GNU Make? Can you compile C programs without gcc?
Does that mean that all Makefiles and shell scripts distributed by
Debian must therefore be under the GPL? Those of SableVM would have to
be then, according to your legal theory, or SableVM couldn't be shipped
along with bash and make.
If you take a brief look at the copyrights file, the FSF grants no
special exception for bash scripts, or makefiles. Must all of SableVM be
GPLd now, too, if it depends on GNU Make and GNU bash to build on Debian?
Eclipse is data to Kaffe which acts as a filter on it. 'kaffe eclipse'
is no different then 'less eclipse', where less is a facinatingly cool
interpreter for the ASCII programming language, licensed under the GPL
as well. The mere possibility that you can run Kaffe on Eclipse as its
data does not in any way constitute an infringement of the GPL, as GPL
lets you run GPLd programs for anything on anything.
Under your interpretation, GPLd programs would automatically impose the
GPL on their input. Then the GPL is non-free, SableVM must be GPLd
because it uses shell scripts and makefiles to build, and must go to
non-free, along with Kaffe, the linux kernel, and a lot of nice things. ;)
Now, let's actually look at building Eclipse. If you require the
presence of Kaffe's class libraries to build eclipse, you get into
further trouble, as Kaffe's class libraries (as a whole) are licensed
under the GNU GPL (see my previous mail titled "Some missing facts").
That was debunked already in November 2003.
Actually, it is not simply a matter of saying: but, I could build it
against Sun's classes, so there's no dependency. There is no such thing
in Copyright law, and actually, the GPL exception only talks of "mere
aggregation" (otherwise, you have *no* rights, according to the law!).
No. There is such a thing as copyrightability of an expression. I, you,
the FSF, noone can claim the copyight on expressions like http://, URL,
java.lang.Object for a lot of good reasons, among which the prime one
is: we didn't come up with them.
Just like I can't force you to slap the GPL on every e-mail you write by
GPLing the text "Etienne Gagnon is a wonderful chap although we have a
slight disagreement on the interpretation of the GPL". I can not own the
copyright to the sequence of strings 'Etienne Gagnon', as that's a
beautiful work of your parents, so even though I own the copyright on
the complete text above, I don't own the copyright on most parts of it.
The GPL does not spread to all your e-mails, code, and so on just
because someone used your name in a GPLd piece of text. Feeling lucky?
After building a Java program using a bytecode compiler against Kaffe's
classes, all that ends up from Kaffe's clas libraries in compiler's
output are expressions that are, in general, not copyrightable. Scenes a
faire, and all that. The GPL can not propagate accross something that's
not copyrightable. If you have a proof to the contrary, please give me
file and line in the Eclipse package, and file and line in the Kaffe
package, and we'll see. Serious requests only, please. I have my hands
full with this nonsense already.
Note that the license of Sun's JDK has explicit provisions that allow
compiling Eclipse against its class libraries. Reminder: According to
copyright law, it's not a matter of standard "interfaces" or not, it's a
matter of "grant by license".
Actually, it is very much matter of standard interfaces, as a third
party implementation like Kaffe or SableVM can not claim copyright on
them. They are not their original inventions. Scenes a faire come to
mind, but so do the abstraction, filtration etc. SableVM can't claim the
GPL on ";" any more than SCO can claim that they own Linux through errno.h.
Otherwise, under your fascinating view of copyright law without care for
copyrightability of an expression, SableVM, as it contains parts of the
VM specification copied verbatim in itself, like VirtualMachine, java,
lang, String, etc. is therefore a derived work of Sun's VM
specification, and therefore must go to non-free, as the VM
specification license is non-free.
One final point. One CANNOT claim that in the case of any Free JVM
using GNU Classpath, currently found in the Debian system, that a
virtual machine "merely" executes its class library.
Of course one can. as that's precisely what an interpreter does. It
processes data. Just like Bash, Make, and so on, Kaffe processes data. A
part of the procesed data is its input, another part of that data are
its class libraries. The GPL of Kaffe puts no restrictions on the data
it processes. Same for Bash. Same for Make. Read the fine GPL.
> Actually, in many
of GNU Classpath's core classes, you will find "native" methods which
are implemented as C functions within the virtual machine itself.
Irrelevant as these native methods are a part of the interpreter. An
interpreter can not impose the GPL on its input no matter whether its
well-modularized like Kaffe, or whether its like other vms. Says the FSF
in their FAQ.
Please do yourself a service and read the whole thread, as all of your
arguments have been already debunked here several times.