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Re: LGPL module linked with a GPL lib

On Wed, 2005-07-27 at 10:05 -0300, Humberto Massa Guimarães wrote:
> First of all, Debian GNU/Linux is *NOT* a derivative work of
> OpenSSL, GStreamer, nor any of its plugins. A derivative work has a
> definition in the statute (in the US case, 17USC).

Hmm.  I suppose this is part and parcel of the move in the USA to
copyright "compilations" or "databases"?  I suppose I had never thought
of it that way.

> Yes. There is no derivative work status on the program that uses a
> library. I and M.K.Edwards, in the last 3 months or so, have brought
> a lot of arguments and case law to this extent to d-l, and my own
> and humble conclusion is that: especially in the case of dynamic
> linking (and more so in the case of dlopen()ing), the distribution
> by debian of both a program A and a linking-to-A B.so is subject
> only to the *separate* compliance to the terms of both A and B.so,
> independently of any terms applied only to derivative works of A or
> of B.so.

Mr. Edwards, elsewhere, refers to the GFingerPoken thread, which I had
followed.  There may be other threads I did not follow, and I will look
for them.

I confess to not seeing how the manner of linking makes a difference
from a copyright point of view.  Static linking creates a derived work,
in that the resulting binary contains the library, much as how a motion
picture film contains its soundtrack.  To me, splitting the soundtrack
off a movie, and creating a machine to recombine them afterwards, does
not cease to make the movie an infringement on the soundtrack's
copyright, which is equivalent to the dynamic linking process.  Is such
a scheme really effective from a legal standpoint in avoiding copyright

> I do not have enough time right now to answer properly (ie, with the
> links to the discussions, examples, and caselaw that I, amongst
> others, presented here on d-l), but I trust that you can find them
> if you are interested.
> As I said two paragraphs above, I consider that I presented all my
> arguments in this direction, and (to me, at least) I consider my
> point proven.

That's great.  Other people with legal expertese (the FSF legal team,
for example) have done the same, and have come to entirely different
conclusions.  Others with legal expertese commented, as I recall, on the
KDE/Qt controversy back in the day, too, and I don't recall seeing any
argument against it that wasn't based on emotion or wishful thinking
("the KDE and Qt people are good people, they wouldn't sue anyone").

I am not a lawyer, and thus am forced to accept arguments from authority
(and regurgitate them when necessary, as was the case in this thread).
It seems clear in my interaction with you that my understanding of the
copyright process is hopelessly inadequate for evaluating these
arguments; there always seems to be some exception to the general rule
that people can throw at any position people can take.

And, it seems to me, that in the authority face-off, you lose.  I've
never heard of you outside this forum.  Mr. Edwards has already admitted
to a lack of formal legal training.  The GPL, on the other hand, has a
law professor and a team of lawyers behind it, as do other groups
promoting free software and open source, and their efforts at enforcing
their view of the world have been quite successful to date.  Are you
seriously telling me that these people don't know what they're talking
about regarding the law, and that you do?  On what basis can you make
such an extraordinary claim?

Now, the standard answer when confronted with such a quandary is "go
hire your own lawyer".  Which is a great idea, if you have hundreds of
dollars to throw away.  If I wanted to throw money at legal crap, I
would have stayed in the Windows world.

So, you will forgive me, I hope, for continued skepticism.  You may be
right, and the entire free software community may be wrong, about the
way things work.  But I'm betting not.

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