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Re: Linking clause deleted from GNAT GPL

Henning Makholm wrote:
> Scripsit Arnoud Engelfriet <galactus@stack.nl>
> > Where is the statement that allows you to take off the linking
> > exception from the GNAT license?
> It is not quite clear how the exception is to be interpreted. There
> are at least two possibilities:

Looking at the documentation provided by the GNAT project, I
think your possibility 2 must be the right one.

   The code of the GNADE project has been placed under the GNU Public
   License (GPL) with the following extension::

   As a special exception, if other files instantiate generics from GNADE
   Ada units, or you link GNADE Ada units or libraries with other files
   to produce an executable, these units or libraries do not by itself
   cause the resulting executable to be covered by the GNU General Public
   License. This exception does not however invalidate any other reasons
   why the executable file might be covered by the GNU Public License.

   Linkname: GNU Ada Data Base Environment
        URL: http://gnade.sourceforge.net/#download

You'll see throughout this document that they refer to the license as
"GNAT Modified GPL (GMGPL)". They wouldn't call it that if it were GPL
and an additional, separate grant of license.

> The result of case (2) is that the combined license, while somewhat
> GPL-like is _not compatible with the unamended GPL_ in either
> direction. I would argue that it is unlikely that this is how the FSF
> really intended to license the code.

I was quite surprised to see in the above document a reference to the
GPL's derivative work clause using the words "the GPL software
infects yours". Not to mention that they call themselves "an open
source project" (under 'Program Objectives'). Perhaps the project
team is not working very closely with the FSF?

Still, a GNU project under an GPL-incompatible license is unusual.

In the GPL FAQ, at "What legal issues come up if I use
GPL-incompatible libraries with GPL software?", the FSF argues
for case (1). They apparently see it as a separate, unrelated
license grant that may be ignored by people who modify the code.

However, on second reading I'm not so sure anymore. The intended
effect is written down _as part of the exception_. So you can argue
a downstream maintainer has been granted the right to ignore the
exception and to apply only the GPL's terms. But they don't answer
the question what will happen if you merely use the "As a special
exception" paragraph.


Arnoud Engelfriet, Dutch & European patent attorney - Speaking only for myself
Patents, copyright and IPR explained for techies: http://www.iusmentis.com/

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