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Re: "Adobe Open Source License" GPL compatible?

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: "Adobe Open Source License" GPL compatible?
Date: Thu, 21 Apr 2005 11:23:33 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Alexander Terekhov <> writes:

> Tim Smith wrote:
>> In article <>, Alexander Terekhov wrote:
>> > My answer is below it. As far as the GPL is concerned, everything is
>> > compatible with it. It might not be so under jursidiction of the GNU
>> > Republic (where only Mr President Stallman knows and rules what is
>> > "compatible"), but who cares?
>> This makes no sense.  If I have some GPL'ed code and some code under license
>> Foo, and I can combine them in a program in such a way that I can satisfy
>> they terms of both GPL and Foo, then it makes sense to say they are
>> compatible.  If I cannot do so, then it makes sense to say they are
>> incompatible.
> First sale aside for a moment, GPL is a bare copyright license. When
> you merely "combine" works, you create compilations, not derivative
> works. The former is also known as "mere aggregation." Got it now?

Linking code always is a derivative work of the individual parts, and
rarely a "compilation" in the legal sense.  The question relevant to
the courts is whether the parts of the whole can be considered
reasonably independent.  It is one criterion for a compilation in the
legal sense of the word that all parts make independent sense outside
of the compilation.

For example, consider libgcc: it can usually be replaced with other
libraries easily, so it would probably make little sense for the FSF
to use the GPL instead of the LGPL for it: they would be on shaky
legal ground for pressing the difference.  The LGPL's basic difference
is that it does not extend the protection to the complete derived
work, and such an extension might not go down with some courts for
something like the libgcc.

I think that the main purpose of the LGPL for the FSF nowadays is to
stay out of court for cases where they don't have a surefire chance of
winning.  It does not make sense otherwise that the FSF strongly
deprecates using the licence, yet does not relicense core material
like libgcc to the GPL.  It is not because they would not want to have
the protection extend over parts linked with it, it is more likely
because they can't be sure to prevail with it.

But that does not change that there is a lot of code around which
_does_ fit the GPL protection when linking with it.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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