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

On 09 Sep 2005 17:52:00 +0200, Claus Färber <claus@faerber.muc.de> wrote:
> The argument, simplified, basically goes like this:
> 1. Program A is licensed under the GPL. => Debian can distribute A.
>   Library M is licensed under the GPL. => Debian can distribute M.
>   Program B is a derivative of A, which dynamically links against M.
>   => Debian can distribute B.

(Question: is B a derivative of M?  For that matter is A a derivative of M?
Is A+M a work eligible for copyright protection?  Is B+M a work 
eligible for copyright protection?)

> 2. Library O is licensed under the a BSD-like license, which contains
>   an advertisting clause. => Debian can still distribute O.
>   Program C is a derivative of A, which dynamically links against O.
>   => Debian can't distribute C.

(Question: is C a derivative of O?  Is C+O a work eligible for copyright 

> 3. Library M is fully compatible to O. So programs B and C are actually
>   identical.
>   => Debian can and can't distribute B/C at the same time.
>   => This can't be right.

(M can be fully compatible with O without B being identical to C.  And 
I've some other questions about the nature of B and C -- see above.)

> So one of the assumptions made above is wrong. The only assumption that
> is not obviously right is: "Debian can't distribute C".

I can see other things which rather obviously could be wrong.  But there's
too few details here to really say for sure.

> Well, you can replace "Debian can't distribute C" by "Debian can't
> distribute C unless M is available". But this is very strange as it
> would mean that the advent of M changes the copyright status of C, which
> is actually derieved from A and O.

One of the issues here is that in the typical case the advertising clause
isn't enforced, nor is it enforceable.  So, in the typical case, it isn't a 
restriction on redistribution, and can't be a problem with the GPL.

Further, in the cases where it could be an issue, it's likely a 
trademark issue rather than a copyright issue, so it's still not a
restriction on redistribution.

Unless... well, we probably could cook up a hypothetical case where 
this advertising clause is a copyright problem.  But your above presentation
has enough problems even without this kind of hypothesis.

Put differently, what you're probably arguing is that there are programs (and
libraries) which don't have much creativity in them, and so aren't eligible for 
more than an absolute minimum of protection.  But this kind of argument is 
rather specific to those kinds of programs and those kinds of libraries.

You might even argue that most programs (or libraries, or exported elements
of libraries, or code bases, or whatever) are lacking in creativity, but this 
argument can never apply to all programs/libraries.


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