[linux-elitists] Re: [SPAM] Re: GPL Violations [was Re: Mobile Phone Choices]

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Sat Jul 29 02:15:20 PDT 2006

Quoting Shlomi Fish (shlomif@iglu.org.il):

> What I meant was that I can develop a software that will link against some 
> libraries by MS or Javasoft, and I can then be free to distribute it as 
> commercial, proprietary software. On the other hand, I cannot do it with a 
> GPL library without making sure my software's source is included and it is 
> freely distributable (under a GPL-compatible licence).

So, let's trace out how this works with reference to both the GPLed
library's provisions and the extent of those provisions' reach.

In writing your proprietary codebase that is planned to work with the
GPLed library, you either (a) include expressive elements (those
qualified for copyright protection) of the library itself in your
codebase, through either literal or non-literal copying of those
elements, or (b) you don't.  The author of the GPLed library sues you
for copyright infringement, you deny the allegation in the "general 
denial" that you file in response, and you both end up in court.

Case (a)(1):  The judge rules that the amount of your copying was
substantive, that plaintiff's copyright title is valid, etc.  You have
committed a tort, will be ordered to cease the infringement, and might
owe monetary damages.

Case (a)(2):  The judge rules that the amount of your copying wasn't 
substantive.  Plaintiff loses.

Case (b):  Because the GPLed library's licence terms inherently can
cover only reuse of the library's expressive elements and creation of 
derivative works, those terms simply have no applicability to
third-party works that are _not_ derivative.  Plaintiff loses.

Please observe that whether something "links to" something else is, 
per se, irrelevant to the legal issue.

Yes, you've read a whole lot of assertions to the contrary, by people
clueless about copyright law (or, in some cases, knowing better but 
wishing the law actually said that).  Thus my point.

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