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Re: GPL question

From: Alfred M. Szmidt
Subject: Re: GPL question
Date: Thu, 11 Oct 2007 22:57:10 +0200 (CEST)

   > > (1) Can I dynamically link my application with free libraries
   > > already present on the target system, even if they're GPL'ed?
   > > (specifically, libbfd, part of binutils, I believe; and gdbm)
   > Not without first consulting a good copyright lawyer experienced in Free
   > Software law.  The FSF says that what you propose to do would infringe
   > their copyrights.  Perhaps you could be a teat case.

   I am mighty confused now. Are you saying that what I'm planning to
   do is not possible?  

Correct, you cannot link non-free software with a GPL library.

   If not, why?  

The end result contains code from a GPL program, and the GPL states
that the whole work has to be licensed under the same terms.

>From the GNU GPL FAQ:

| I'd like to incorporate GPL-covered software in my proprietary
| system. Can I do this?

|     You cannot incorporate GPL-covered software in a proprietary
|     system. The goal of the GPL is to grant everyone the freedom to
|     copy, redistribute, understand, and modify a program. If you
|     could incorporate GPL-covered software into a non-free system,
|     it would have the effect of making the GPL-covered software
|     non-free too.

|     A system incorporating a GPL-covered program is an extended
|     version of that program. The GPL says that any extended version
|     of the program must be released under the GPL if it is released
|     at all. This is for two reasons: to make sure that users who get
|     the software get the freedom they should have, and to encourage
|     people to give back improvements that they make.

|     However, in many cases you can distribute the GPL-covered
|     software alongside your proprietary system. To do this validly,
|     you must make sure that the free and non-free programs
|     communicate at arms length, that they are not combined in a way
|     that would make them effectively a single program.

|     The difference between this and "incorporating" the GPL-covered
|     software is partly a matter of substance and partly form. The
|     substantive part is this: if the two programs are combined so
|     that they become effectively two parts of one program, then you
|     can't treat them as two separate programs. So the GPL has to
|     cover the whole thing.

|     If the two programs remain well separated, like the compiler and
|     the kernel, or like an editor and a shell, then you can treat
|     them as two separate programs--but you have to do it
|     properly. The issue is simply one of form: how you describe what
|     you are doing. Why do we care about this? Because we want to
|     make sure the users clearly understand the free status of the
|     GPL-covered software in the collection.

|     If people were to distribute GPL-covered software calling it
|     "part of" a system that users know is partly proprietary, users
|     might be uncertain of their rights regarding the GPL-covered
|     software. But if they know that what they have received is a
|     free program plus another program, side by side, their rights
|     will be clear.

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