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Re: LGPL module linked with a GPL lib

On Wed, 2005-07-27 at 12:00 -0700, Michael K. Edwards wrote:
> The message to which I pointed you has a link back into the main fray
> (threads with titles like "Urgently need GPL compatible libsnmp5-dev
> replacement", "GPL and linking", and "What makes software
> copyrightable anyway?").  I've put together a 50-some page monograph
> that contains 'most everything I know about the subject (and about the
> process of construing the GPL, apart from the warranty disclaimer,
> about which I've learned more since); copies available for private
> circulation upon request.

Excuse me for asking, but why is this monograph not freely available?
Surely, as a non-lawyer, you have no hope of profiting from it, and
having a succint, linkable statement of your arguments would do wonders
for preventing such go-arounds as this one, and might even persuade
laymen like me.

I will examine your links in the future.

> The manner of linking doesn't make a difference in principle, and the
> statically linked case is no more a derived work than the dynamically
> linked case.  Dynamic linking makes it abundantly clear that neither
> the source code nor the binary form of the program contains any more
> of the original's creative expression than is dictated by
> interoperability requirements, and may add an additional defense under
> 17 USC 117, but the only effect is to make it less likely that a
> district judge will rule incorrectly (IMHO, IANAL, TINLA).
> The reason that your analogy is incorrect is that the soundtrack is an
> essential part of the creative expression in the film.  The
> relationship between program and library is not one of creative
> expression, it is one of engineering use.  Net-SNMP, for instance,
> employs the OpenSSL programming interface in order to incorporate not
> the expressive content of OpenSSL but its functionality.  That's not
> the relationship between a film and its soundtrack, it's the
> relationship between a film and the sprockets in the projector.

"Use" is not my concern; distribution is.  Certainly, a user may combine
Net-SNMP and OpenSSL in any way they want; even the GPL allows that.
But (again, statically, so as to be entirely clear) when somebody puts
Net-SNMP and OpenSSL together (or, to be more precise, OpenSSL and the
Perl extension libraries) into a single binary and distributes the
result, does that person have any copyright obligations to the Perl,
Net-SNMP, and/or OpenSSL authors?

Furthermore, it's my sense that copyright holders have all kinds of
discretionary power in restricting distribution of their works by
others.  In what way is this power restricted when it comes to the
dynamic linking question?

> The FSF legal team are very much interested parties, and are on record
> as stating that the GPL is more useful as a tool for subverting the
> dominant paradigm of copyright than as an actual legal document.  They
> have never, to my knowledge, cited any legal precedent more recent
> than the 1710 Statute of Anne (whose content they misrepresent) in
> support of the contentions in the FSF FAQ.  I am no lawyer, but I will
> cheerfully walk you through the statutory, historical, and judicial
> support for my perspective in mind-numbing detail.  Judge for
> yourself.

Of course, the FSF has had a relatively successful run at spreading
their meme throughout the legal community.  The point was not that they
are "pure" in some vague moral sense, but that they have
well-established reputations and a long history of getting various
portions of the legal community to see things their way.  Thus, looking
at things from an "authority" perspective, you can see the force behind
their arguments.

> You are not forced to accept arguments from authority.  There's a
> primary literature (appellate court decisions) that you can check for
> yourself (through FindLaw, for instance).  You can verify that an
> argument's citations to the primary literature are honest and accurate
> representations of the thrust of the case.  You can easily find
> similar cases that aren't cited in the argument, and see if they lead
> to similar conclusions, and verify which cases are frequently cited in
> later opinions.  None of this takes a law degree, only some research
> skills and a passing familiarity with the legal lingo.

Except that I have already done this.  Arguably, I have not done it
"enough".  But have you?  How would I, or anyone else, know?

Real legal degrees might be one way to vouch for the "completeness" of
one's knowledge, but the FSF has those.  Prestige in the legal community
might be another, but the FSF has that, too.  Success in negotiation?
Also covered.  Success in the courtroom?  No one has that to any
significant degree, and the lack of cases speaks to the effectiveness of
negotiation, another point in the FSF's favor.

Perhaps we could get Eben Moglen to duke it out with you here.  If you
can pull it off, more power to you.  Until then, what can I rely on?

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