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Re: GPL V2 and GPLv3

Peter S Galbraith writes:

>>> Wow.  I don't think I could disagree more. Loading the library
>>> presumably means we are going to invoke some of its code.  So you are
>>> saying that an interpreter under any non-free license can use any GPL'ed
>>> library?
>> That is not at all what he said.  The test for whether work A is a
>> derivative work of work B does not look at programmatic linking or the
>> mechanism for doing that.
>> If program A depends on some interface, and program B is only one of
>> several programs that implement that interface, A probably is not a
>> derivative work of B.
> If it explicitely calls the interface...

... that does not resolve the question, even for bytecompiled files.

Copyright does not govern methods or theories of operation, only
creative expression.  United States courts have held -- for example,
in Lotus v. Borland -- that the naming and function of interface
points was a method of operation, and thus not protected by copyright
law.  To my knowledge, no court has ever addressed the issue of a
programming interface, but the wording used by the court in Lotus
v. Borland suggests that the same argument would apply to APIs.

Also, the copyright laws with which I am familiar treat the output of
an automatic process as the same work as the input(s).  If the elisp
source is not implicated by a compiler's license, the only basis that
the corresponding .elc file might be implicated by the compiler's
license is if the compiler added copyrightable content, for example in
response to a macro call.  There is room for argument even in that

>> In this case, there are older emacsen -- distributed under licenses
>> other than the GPLv3 -- that provide the interfaces needed by most or
>> all of the elisp in question.  
> Sure, the code is fine with older Emacs.  We simply shouldn't install it
> and set it up for GPL v3 versions of Emacs.

I suggest you take this question up with the FSF.  If their position
is that there is a license conflict between GPLv2-only elisp files and
a GPLv3 (or later) installation of GNU Emacs, it is worth talking
about -- in part because there would be wider-ranging implications.
So far, though, you seem to be the only one with that opinion, and you
have not provided any support for it beyond assertion.

>>                               It is clearly absurd to say that a work
>> written a year (or five years) ago depends on a GPLv3-licensed version
>> of emacs; there was no such thing when the older work was written.
> Yet it is also absurd to _assume_ that someone that licensed some work
> under the GPL v2 only meant that any later v3 will do.  Respect the licensor's
> wishes. 

That would indeed be a poor assumption.  I do not believe we need to
address the question of GPLv2-only versus GPLv2-or-later, since elisp
files -- certainly in source form, which Debian uses for elisp
distributed in "standalone" elisp packages, and likely in compiled
form -- are not automatically subject to the license of the version of
Emacs that bytecompiles them.  There must be some nexus beyond
compilation and distribution on the same medium.

Did you have any specific GPLv2-only elisp files of concern?


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