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Re: SHA, MD, and openssl

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: SHA, MD, and openssl
Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2013 15:08:52 +0900

Pádraig Brady writes:

 > BTW openssl.org says it's OK to use these interfaces from GPL software
 > due to the system lib exception: 
 > http://www.openssl.org/support/faq.html#LEGAL2

AFAIK that's legally irrelevant.[1]  The FSF (as copyright holder in
the GPL itself!) can comment on the intended meaning of terms such as
"system libs" in the license, as can the licensor (copyright holder)
of a *specific* GPLed software that might be linked with OpenSSL
(although they might need to make an explicit exception that would
apply only to that software, see below).  A third party who
distributes GPLed software linked with OpenSSL would have to be backed
by a court if the copyright holder disagreed.  And IMHO openssl.org's
opinion would probably be admitted only as "amicus", and only given
attention if their lawyer were really famous in the field.

Cf. Linus's famous "interpretation" of the GPL as allowing non-free
drivers to be loaded by the kernel.  Only Linus could do that; not the
driver vendors, not third parties like distros.  And in the end, the
FSF's opinion overruled that "interpretation", and Linus was forced to
make the exception explicit (in the same way that Bison's parser
skeleton code gets an explicit and limited exception).

[1]  In the U.S., and the usual IANAL TINLA caveats apply.

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