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

Jerry Hastings sword-devel@crosswire.org
Fri, 25 May 2001 00:59:37 -0700

This is in reply to both Chris and Paul.

>This was in
>response to the FSF's new GPL FAQ at
>http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl-faq.html, which answers most of our

I don't think the questions are really answered and won't be until a court 
decides the issues. I think GPL has fallen into very muddy waters.

The GPL uses the phrases "contains or is derived from" and "any derivative 
work under copyright law." If dynamic linking is found to produce a 
derivative work, the GPL will mean what faq claims. But, different courts 
have had different ideas of what a derivative work is. Anyway, I don't 
think it is at all clear that any court would or would not say dynamic 
linking is a derivative work. An article about this by a licensed attorney 
for Open Source Initiative says dynamic linking should not produce a 
derivative work. See 
http://www.openmagazine.net/featured/01/04/18/1529243.shtml .

>And there's a concensus that neither static nor dynamic linking against a
>GPLed library is ever okay if your product is non-GPL.

Consensus? The new faq clearly says so, but that does not make it so.

>I'd suggest that we ensure that all our code is owned or relicenseable by

That should be considered. Also, same for anything that becomes part of the 
web site. Though the web site is not a GPL issue.

>Why would you want to do this? IMO the strength of a GPL license is
>dependent to some extent on having multiple copyright holders. Personally,
>i would be reluctant to release code under such an arrangement. (Not that
>my vast contribution counts for anything. ;-)

Because, if Crosswire owns all rights, it can put everything out under 
multiple licenses. If it only owns part, it can only release the parts it 
owns under other licenses. If you are concerned that a work would not end 
up as GPL, I believe you could release it as GPL first and then sign over 
rights. That work would forever remain GPL but Crosswire would be able to 
provide it in other ways also.