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

Jerry Hastings sword-devel@crosswire.org
Fri, 25 May 2001 18:18:56 -0700

> > 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.
>I would concede this.  Intent will have a lot to do with any final
>judgements though, and RMS's intent is being made more clear (not crystal
>clear, but more clear) through the FAQ.

I see problems with the intent argument. He defined very clearly in the GPL 
that for something to need to be included under GPL it would be "any 
derivative work under copyright law." I don't think he can win arguing that 
it means something other than what the law intends derivative to mean.

Also, if he intended something else he should have said so in the license 
when it was created. Going into court later and saying it says such and 
such but here is what I really intended, is not a good position to be in. 
What about all the people that in good faith took it to not mean what he 
now says, but took it to mean what the law intends derivative to mean?

It looks to me like dynamic linking was an unforeseen development. Being 
that it was unforeseen I don't think he had any intent toward it one way or 
another. Only that if an unforeseen development lead to a "derivative work 
under copyright law" then it would be subject to the GPL.

In the end the courts may decide that dynamic linking produces a 
"derivative work under copyright law." Then whether he intended it or not 
he will get what he wants. But that remains to be seen.

>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.

It is not clear to me that the headers produce a derivative work. I think 
of the headers as references not creative expression. It seems to me that 
using the headers for dynamic linking is just a way to reference functions 
and such, and not a recasting of a program into a new expression. A dll 
remains unchanged for other programs to use, it is only referenced and not 
recast, neither replacing the old nor making a new dll.

But, who know what the courts may decide.