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Re: GPL, yet again. (The kernel is a lot like a shared library)

On Wed, Sep 07, 2005 at 06:50:00PM -0400, Joe Smith wrote:
> While I would like to belive that the FSF knew exactly what they were 
> doing, I am not certain.
> It is generally belived that the GPL 'derivative' clauses may actually be 
> upheld in the case of static libraries. The fact that linking the .o's of 
> the library directly with your program is equivelent to linking the library 
> with the object files of your program, seems to verify this.
> The question still debated is whether Shared libraries are like this also.

It's the wrong question. This is a FAQ here.

Stop thinking about libraries. Libraries are not relevant. You're
getting misled by technial details of how libraries are implemented,
when in fact the whole issue is a red herring. Start thinking about

The question you need to ask yourself is: Is this piece of software, in
source form, a derivative of openssl?

If it has been written to include and extend the behaviour of openssl
by calling its functions - for example, the piece of software is an
implementation of HTTPS, an SSL-derived protocol - then the source is
probably a derivative of openssl.

The shared library form is then trivially a derivative because it's a
transformation of the source, but we don't actually care about that -
the fact that the source is a derivative is enough to be a blocking

You will note that this allows for the possibility of software linked
to openssl that is not a derivative of it. The trivial example is to
take a copy of GNU hello, and add "-lssl" to LDFLAGS. That doesn't
make it a derivative of openssl.

You will also note that this excludes the possibility of being able to
evade copyright law via technicalities of how you build the
software. That's an expected property of a well-formulated law.

I do not know how a program that really used openssl, calling its
functions, could avoid being a derivative. I can't rule it out but
I've never seen a plausible argument for it and I can't imagine what
one would look like. If anybody wants to try arguing that case here,
expect it to be a really hard sell.

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
 : :' :  http://www.debian.org/ |
 `. `'                          |
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