[sword-devel] GPL issues (again, sorry)

Chris Little sword-devel@crosswire.org
Thu, 24 May 2001 21:19:16 -0700

> > > > And there's a concensus that neither static nor dynamic linking
> > > against a
> > > > GPLed library is ever okay if your product is non-GPL.
> Got any links to the discussion?

http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl-faq.html#GPLAndPlugins states that "If the
program dynamically links plug-ins, and they make function calls to each
other and share data structures, we believe they form a single program, so
plug-ins must be treated as extensions to the main program. This means they
must be released under the GPL or a GPL-compatible free software license."
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=01/05/24/0256210&cid=158 has a
discussion of this point.

http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl-faq.html#IfLibraryIsGPL states that if a
library is GPLed, a program using (linking) to it must also be GPL.  There
are few if any distinctions in the GPL between dynamic and static linking.
And about the only place it indicates that you can use GPLed code in a
non-GPL program is in the previous cited section of the FAQ, where it states
that if the GPL code is called through fork or exec calls, it's kosher.  In
other words, it has to be a separate process.  So COM+ objects are okay, but
DLLs aren't.

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=01/05/24/0256210&cid=34 has some very
good discussion on inadequacies of the GPL in light of COM/COM+.  It
indicates that a COM object is not okay for non-GPL software to use, whereas
a COM+ object would be, because of how they get executed.

> > If "Crosswire" owns the copyright, then things are considerably simpler.
> > Then the active members of Crosswire need only come to a concensus.
> Does CrossWire actually have members?

Didn't you send in your dues? :)  By virtue of contributing to its
project(s) I think you become a member.  What do you want, a card? :)

> Linus II, we hail thee!  :-)

Troy, just wondering... are you a communist? :)

> I admit this is not a nice situation (especially if you want to use WinCE
> :-).

Oh, I can use WinCE all I want.  Remember the GPL says I can do whatever I
want with GPLed code in the privacy of my home.  I'm just not allowed to
distribute the WinCE version.  Neat, huh.

> As an aside, i'd really like to see some legal precedent relating to the
> linking issue.  It seems to me from section 2 of the GPL that
> linking is not
> relevant, and the whole idea that a program linked with a GPL-ed
> library is
> a 'work based on the program' is a flawed one (and thus the difference
> between the GPL and the LGPL is a non-issue).  But you never know with the
> American legal system.  8^)

Keep watching.  With any luck the FSF will be suing SloMedia shortly for a
GPL violation over dynamic linking.  One of the reasons why you can't
dynamically link if you're doing non-GPL work is that you're still including
GPLed work in your finished product by virtue of using its headers.