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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: Sun, 13 Mar 2005 01:17:31 +0100

On Sun, 13 Mar 2005 00:11:12 +0100 (Henrik S. Hansen) wrote:

> Stefaan A Eeckels <> writes:
> > The answers in the GPL FAQ are the opinion of the FSF's
> > legal counsel (hopefully).
> Right.  Which is an indicator that they have analysed the matters in
> depth, and that they have the competence to do so.

But not that they'll be followed by the court. They are
however a clear indication of what might cause them to
take you to court.

> > 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).
> Using standard Unix/POSIX system calls is not considered a derivative
> work.

Here's the definition of a derivative work, taken
(without permission, but fair use (still) applies :-) from
101 USC 17:

| A "derivative work" is a work based upon one or more preexisting works, such
| as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization,
| motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment,
| condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed,
| or adapted. A work consisting of editorial revisions, annotations,
| elaborations, or other modifications which, as a whole, represent an original
| work of authorship, is a "derivative work".

You see, there's no mention of POSIX or "being needed to make
the program work". I think one can reasonably say that a statically
linked executable is covered by "any other form in which a work
may be recast, transformed or adapted" as far as its components
are concerned. But a dynamically linked program does not contain
a single line of code of the libraries it calls, merely information
on how to access the library. I cannot find anything in the above
citation that would even hint at it being a derivative work of the

> > The law should not be the only yardstick for our behaviour, something
> > we, as a society, tend to forget too often nowadays.
> Well spoken.  I couldn't agree more.

Thanks. The real issue here is not a legal, but a moral one. 

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

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