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Re: using GPL api to be used in a properietary software

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: using GPL api to be used in a properietary software
Date: Sat, 12 Mar 2005 14:21:47 +0100

On Fri, 11 Mar 2005 23:15:50 +0100 (Henrik S. Hansen) wrote:

> Stefaan A Eeckels <> writes:
> > While I agree that the OP isn't exactly trying to honour the spirit of
> > the GPL, claiming that a program is a derivative work of the programs
> > it depends upon for its execution (like libraries, OS, shells etc.)
> > is both incorrect and counter-productive.
> Please get a clue before calling others incorrect and
> "counter-productive".  You are completely wrong.  One thing is that you
> actually believe what you say, another is repeating it to others
> thoughtlessly, thereby propagating FUD.

An angry young man, I see. Sorry to burst your bubble,
but the (USA) copyright statutes do not provide this
definition of a derivative work:

| Rui Miguel Seabra wrote:
| Does the program require the library to work?

The OS is equally "required to make the program work",
but I'm sure you can see that claiming that thence every
program is a derivative work of the OS is not going to
be very productive for Free Software authors (and users).
It would, for example, allow Microsoft to control which
applications can be written for their OSes (because one cannot
prepare derivative works without the permission of the 
copyright holder).

> A quote from the GPL FAQ (
> Q: You have a GPL'ed program that I'd like to link with my code to build
>    a proprietary program. Does the fact that I link with your program
>    mean I have to GPL my program?
> A: Yes.

The answers in the GPL FAQ are the opinion of the FSF's
legal counsel (hopefully). It is indeed the opionion of
the FSF that any form of linking (static, dynamic, or whatever
technology brings us next) makes the resulting binary a 
derivative work of both programs. While this is perfectly
true in case of static linking, where the binary contains
transformations of both programs, it is far less clear that
a dynamically linked executable is a derivative work of the
libraries it (might) call. It is, on the other hand, quite
clear that the source code of any program that uses a library
is _not_ a derivative work of the library. 

My answer was both correct and thoughtful. The OP should not
try to get around the spirit of the GPL by doing what he seeks
to do. The idea that "being required for the operation" 
defines a derivative work, is wholly incorrect. Thus, while
what the OP proposes is (in the USA at least) probably lawful,
it is not morally defensible. The law should not be the only
yardstick for our behaviour, something we, as a society, tend
to forget too often nowadays.

Kind regards,

As complexity rises, precise statements lose meaning,
and meaningful statements lose precision. -- Lotfi Zadeh 

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