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Re: Is libreludedb DFSG compliant?

Marco Franzen wrote:
> Josh Triplett wrote:
>> Mickael Profeta wrote:
>>> If you link LibPreludeDB against other code all of which is itself
>   ^^^^^^^^^^^
>>> licensed under the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2
>>> dated June 1991 ("GPL v2") or compatible, then you may use LibpreludeDB
>                                             ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>>> under the terms of the GPL v2,as appearing in the file COPYING.  If the
>   ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>>> file COPYING is missing, you can obtain a copy of the GPL v2 from the
>>> Free Software Foundation Inc., 51 Franklin St, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA
>>> 02110-1301, USA.
>> This looks fine to me.
> What if I don't want to link it? I may want to
> - just publish (parts of) the source code (or (of) a modified version)
> - modify it into something that isn't a library and publish the source
> - paste code fragments into an embedded/free-standing application
>  (which does not link against anything, not even libc),
>  maybe with some modifications to fit the new environment
> - copy code fragments into documentation
> With the above I have no license to do any of that. I am not even
> sure I am allowed to make a private copy (jurisdiction dependency?).
> This may not look like a freeness issue because one could always do
> some trivial linking first to get the GPL grant. But if the code does
> not compile on any system available to me, then I have no licence to
> change it into something that I can compile and link...
> I think what the licensor really means is to license it under the GPL,
> so they should do just that rather than trying to paraphrase the GPL
> in one sentence or trying to grant the GPL licence conditionally
> or whatever it is they are trying there.
> I think they just mean to say that the GPL is not the LGPL. If they feel
> they really need to say that, they can do so outside the formal licence
> grant: use the standard "This is free software..." boilerplate and then
> add something not legally binding, like "Note that the GNU GPL requires
> you..." if they must. Although I'd prefer they didn't.

Hmmm.  When I read this statement, I interpreted "link" broadly here, in
the sense which includes combinations with other code that do not
necessarily involve invoking a linker.  Furthermore, I read it not as
"you must link it with GPL or compatible software in order to be used
under this license", but as "for all software linked to it, that
software must be GPL or compatible", making it still vacuously true that
the software is GPL if linked with nothing else.  Thus, the statement
seemed compatible with (and redundant given) the GPL.  If either of
those two assumptions was not the intended reading of the statement,
then I agree entirely with your argument that the statment renders the
software non-free.  In any case, yes, the simplest solution is to avoid
making such explanations in a form that makes them look like additional
conditions of the license.

- Josh Triplett

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