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

fred smith sword-devel@crosswire.org
Sat, 26 May 2001 07:14:17 -0400

On Fri, May 25, 2001 at 06:18:56PM -0700, Jerry Hastings wrote:
> > > 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.
> <snip>
> 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.

But if the current thinking (not to mention hypothetical court decisions)
work in this way, what about the other question: Can a business create
a non-GPL work for sale which runs on, say , Linux where GNU libraries
(and other GPL libraries) exist as shared libraries? It strikes me that
if the argument that dynamic linking creating a GPL'd work merely because
the work dynamically links to a GPL library hold water, then that throws
out the legality of having any commercial/non-GPL works ever on such
platforms. Clearly that would be a problem!

> >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.
> Jerry

---- Fred Smith -- fredex@fcshome.stoneham.ma.us ----------------------------
  "And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father,
  Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government there will be no end. He 
 will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding
      it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever."
------------------------------- Isaiah 9:7 (niv) ------------------------------