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Re: Report from the Debian Java developers meeting at FOSDEM

On Wed, Mar 03, 2004 at 07:57:56PM +0100, Dalibor Topic wrote:
> Debian-legal didn't follow the interpretation of GPL of Etienne, another 
> SableVM developer, the last time around, when he was asserting Kaffe 
> being GPLd makes Java applications undistributable. Instead, 
> debain-legal supported my interpretation of GPL.

I do not remember debian-legal saying: "we agree with Dalibor Topic's
interpretation".  Or, maybe my memory is failing me?

Precisely, they supported an interpretaation of derivative work or not
being defined as whether app A would work with B only or with a
variety of Bs from different vendors.

Now, this aplied to Kaffe + Classpath:

Does kaffe run with any (or many) class libraries?  No.

So, if Kaffe & Classpath are made to run together, do they form (as a
combination) a derivative of Kaffe?  Yes.

Now, you will probably argue the Kaffe "runs" Classpath, but I
disagree.  If you type:

  kaffe invalidAppName

You will probably get a stack trace from Classpath.  So, Classpath is
in fact integrated into Kaffe, to allow it to run applications.
Alternatively, you can ask yourself the question: Can Kaffe do its job
of executing Java programs in absence of Classpath (or its own GPLed
libraries)?  The answer is obviously "no".  So, Kaffe is not merely
executing the bytecodes of Classpath (and I'm not even talking about
native code...)

So, as Kaffe is licensed under the GPL, the combination of Kaffe +
Classpath must be licensed under the terms of the GPL (as per Kaffe's
license).  No exception for linking (a la Classpath) may be allowed.

> I don't see why they 
> would change their minds this time around, since GNU Classpath is more 
> liberally licensed than Kaffe's old class library.

This is false.  I have not changed my view.  I said publicly on
debian-legal that I accepted the App A/B dependency interpretation.

Now, when a debian source package only works with kaffe, and this
package is GPL incompatible, the independence of the app from kaffe is
far from obvious, specially if you are a user running on a platform
where no JDK is available from Sun.  Single build-dependency or
dependency of a debian package on Kaffe is what I am discussing.

> Sure it did. Transvirtual and the Kaffe core developer team publicly
> stated in their FAQ on the old kaffe.org website that they consider
> running commercial applications on kaffe to be ok.

As far as I remeber, this FAQ was pretty explicit about the fact that
it had NO legal value whatsoever.

If they issue a non-legally binding "opinion", underlying that it has
no legal value, you should NOT propose to take such an opinion into
account to interpret the legal implications of the licensing terms of

I would pretty much like to see a clear, legally binding, statement
from all Kaffe's copyright holders to the effect that they agree to
your interpretation of the GPL.  If you produce such a document,
Debian will be able to safely go along your interpretation.
Otherwise, Debian should stick to its definition of derivative works.
Do not forget that Copyright infrigement is a criminal offence in many
countries, including Canada, not a civil matter.  In other words, you
can be prosecuted even if the copyright holder has not initiated any
action against you.

Please, do not take my arguments as personal attacks.  I am simply
stating the facts as I perceive them.



Etienne M. Gagnon, Ph.D.             http://www.info.uqam.ca/~egagnon/
SableVM:                                       http://www.sablevm.org/
SableCC:                                       http://www.sablecc.org/

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