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Re: Question regarding QPLed plugins for a GPLed app

On Tue, Mar 22, 2005 at 11:02:41PM +0000, Anthony W. Youngman wrote:
> In message <20050322062945.GB27907@pegasos>, Sven Luther 
> >I know, i argued the same thing, but it seems in legalese land there is 
> >only a
> >fine step between distributing linked files and distributing files with the
> >sole express purpose of linking.
> It may be a fine step, but I would have thought it was a very clear 
> line...
> The distinction between me doing something that I have no right to do, 
> and me doing something which permits someone else to do something they 
> have every right to do, is to me (and, I presume, any judge) extremely 
> clear.

Well, there is the intention.

> >>>>If my plug-in does not contain any copyrightable portion of the main
> >>>>program, then I can distribute it. The fact that it can only be of any
> >>>>use in conjunction with a GPL program isn't my problem :-)
> >>>
> >>>As said, you may say that, but a judge will maybe have a different view.
> >>
> >>So, what you're saying, is that I can be guilty of copyright "theft"
> >>even if I haven't copied anything at all?
> >
> >Well, it depends on if you are the sole author or not. If you are the sole
> >author you are better of putting an explicit exception to the GPL for your
> >plugins.
> If I haven't copied anything, how on earth can there be any other 
> author!

Yep, but for how long ? 

Just use the explicit excepmption, and everyone will be happy.

> >>>>As I said, I intend to use this technique - but it would be me writing
> >>>>the main program, and others writing plug-ins. So I can do a Linus and
> >>>>say "this is how I interpret the licence". If other people then send me
> >>>>plug-ins, and I do as I said I would do, then they don't have any real
> >>>>case against me :-)
> >>>
> >>>Sure, as long as you are the sole copyright owner, then it is no problem.
> >>>If
> >>>you start integrating random patches, other may also have right to sue
> >>>though.
> >>
> >>But not if I made it clear - *before they sent their patches to me* -
> >>that that was the way I was going to interpret the licence. The doctrine
> >>of estoppel and all that ...
> >
> >See above.
> >
> >BTW, why did you drop -legal on this ?
> I don't see how there can be any controversy, so why waste everyone 
> else's bandwidth?

For documentation purpose, naturally.

> As I see it, if I write a plug-in that does not contain *any* 
> copyrightable GPL code, I can't see why the GPL should affect it even if 
> the program it plugs into is GPL. I am not distributing a work derived 
> from GPL code and that's all there is to it. And that's what I was 
> saying in my original reply to the OP.

Yes, but it seems that legally you are wrong, and that there is not only the
question of the linking also, but of the intent.

Anyway, just put in an explicit excemption and everything will be fine.

Something among the lines of :

  This code is under the GPL ... blah blah ... with the additional excemption
  that it is allowed to link with external plugins which conform to the plugin
  interface defined in .. blah blah ...

Or phrase it differently, but say it explicitly.


Sven Luther

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