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

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Sat Jul 29 15:06:57 PDT 2006

Quoting Tilghman Lesher (zgp-org@the-tilghman.com):

> That's possibly true, subject to court interpretation, but in any
> case, the argument about linking is mostly bound to the acts of
> copying and redistributing.  In the case for which this thread
> originated, my understanding is that the potentially infringing
> product is an embedded hardware device, which, by its very nature,
> necessitates the copying and distribution of GPL-licensed works, if it
> links to GPL-licensed software.

Per se, that necessitates only the product manufacturer's compliance
with the GPL clause 3 obligation as to the redistributed GPL-licensed
work.  Which is important, but entirely different from asserting that
"linking" supposedly automatically encumbers the _other_ work Shlomi
spoke of.

> It's worth noting that the opinion of the authors who wrote the GPL
> is that linking is covered by the license (as evidenced by the clause
> about the LGPL), as inclusion of the work (and would thus be a
> derivative work), but that is still subject to the opinion of a court
> of law.

1.  I actually don't believe I've yet seen Prof. Moglen espouse that 
particular view, only Richard.

2.  The licence's authors' opinions, in any event, cannot possibly 
alter the way copyright law operates, by even iota.  Not at all.  

That's really the key point, and it's possible you might have missed it:  
An author can write (or use) whatever licence he/she wishes, but the
scope of its reach is determined _not_ by the licence's terms (let
alone by the copyright owner or licence author's opinions), but rather
by the statutes, treaties, and caselaw governing copyrights.

> Given how untested the GPL is, saying that linking is covered
> is just as legally ambiguous as saying that linking is not covered.

Non sequitur, sir.  We know how _copyright law works_, and thus what
scope of coverage is available for licenses, because there is a very
long and settled body of copyright caselaw.  

That is true _irrespective_ of what GPLv2 or any other licence professes
to be the case.

Suggestion:  Don't just throw up your hands and say "I'm not a lawyer, 
this is undecided, who can say for sure?"  Read and understand the
fundamental nature of copyright law, and judge for yourself.

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