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Re: GPL and linking (was: Urgently need GPL compatible libsnmp5-dev replacement :-()

On 5/7/05, Raul Miller <moth.debian@gmail.com> wrote:
> > The GPL contains one, and only one, _definition_ of the phrase "work
> > based on the Program".  (The word Program, capitalized, is defined
> > previously.)  That _definition_, in its entirety, is:
> >
> > <definition>
> > a "work based on the Program" means either the Program or any
> > derivative work under copyright law
> > </definition>
> I disagree.  You know I disagree.

No, that was not altogether clear to me previously.  That seems to
have been your argument at some times, and at others you seem to have
taken issue with my attempt to elucidate the legal meaning of
"derivative work".  Now I know.

> I believe the definition continues until the end of that sentence.

<shrug>.  Suit yourself.  But at least it is now clear where we
disagree, grammatically speaking.

> > This definition emphasizes that "derivative work", which is in any
> > case a phrase with a defined legal meaning, is to have its meaning
> > under copyright law in the applicable jurisdiction and _no_other_.
> > Each and every time the phrase "work[s] based on the Program" appears
> > in the text of the GPL, it means this and only this.
> That's an assertion.
> You've not presented any examples where this oh-so-important
> assertion of yours makes any difference.

The "work" (subspecies "copyrightable collection", or "collective
work" in 17 U.S.C. 101) known as Debian sarge CD #1.  You simply
cannot read C not to include this "work".  Or you can, but I can't
follow you there, nor do I believe that any court of competent
jurisdiction in any Berne Convention country can.

> Oh, and I understand the grammar.

If you do not (as it appears to me that you do not), there is
certainly no more that I can do to clarify it.

> > The GPL contains, in the same sentence, a pair of noun clauses, placed
> > in apposition, with unambiguous syntactical markers (a colon and the
> > adverbial phrase "that is to say") indicating that the second noun
> > clause is an attempt to paraphrase the first.
> http://www.google.com/search?q=define%3Athat+is+to+say
> indicates the meaning of this phrase is:  "namely: as follows"
> In other words, a reasonable person could assume that this part of
> the definition is more specific about what "work based on the Program"
> means than the preceding part.

Yes; that could easily be assumed by an otherwise reasonable person who:
     A) is not clear about English grammar (as I understand it), and
recognizes neither the punctuation symbol ":" nor an apposition of
noun phrases, and therefore believes that W is more closely associated
with C than with E; or
     B) has not consulted adequate legal references about the meaning
of "derivative work" under copyright law, or who has relied on poor
secondary references such as
http://www.legal-definitions.com/derivative-work.htm (as the authors
of Creative Commons licenses appear to) and therefore has not
understood that definition in the way that I understand it based on
what's getting to be a pretty mind-numbing amount of research; or
     C) understands both the grammar and the term "derivative work" in
the same way I do but chooses to read a different meaning into it
anyway, perhaps based on the FSF FAQ, says so prominently and without
reservation, and thus risks being personally estopped from arguing
otherwise in a courtroom.

But for all the reasons I have named previously (and probably several
more), that otherwise reasonable person's opinion carries no weight
with respect to enforcement of the GPL on anyone other than himself --
unless he or she is the presiding judge in the wrong courtroom, in
which case it is beyond my imagination that the judgment would fail to
be reversed on appeal.  (Where I live, anyway -- for now.  It is
happening less often nowadays that I feel complacent about residing in

> I see no basis here for assuming that the GPL is incorrect about
> what it says.

Well, whether I'm right or not (and who's to say, outside a court of
law?), it's now well beyond the point at which the level of my
pedantry has to be insulting the reader's intelligence, so I think I'd
best drop it.  No hard feelings, OK?

- Michael

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