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Re: Is this circumvention of the GPL?

From: James Michael DuPont
Subject: Re: Is this circumvention of the GPL?
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 2002 11:22:54 -0800 (PST)

> 2. Let's say that I write a program and release > it
under GPL. However, the program is written in > an
extremely idiosyncratic style so as not to be >
understandable to anyone but its author. Is it 
> legal?
I think that the shrouding of the source is a big
issue, and the VCG is a real problem in that regard.

I was wondering about that,
if making the graph layout algorithm a shrouded source
would be legal. It definitly has hampered the creation
of a gpled graph layout algorithm!

That is what was done by the VCG project by
Mr Sander. 
The GCC has routines for outputing into VCG in the
compiler itself, but it's source code is not open! 

That also questions the legality of the AISee tool and
the continued non-distribution of the GPLed version of
the code.

I would love to take the layout algorithm and create a
clickable graph routine that uses VCG internally, and
look in how the layout code works. But is it really an
affront to GPL that such a shrouding is tolerated.


Following are quotes from various pages that give
supporting statements.

I quote his page :
Based on the VCG code, the company AbsInt has
developed a visualization tool AISee. 
See for more information.
I'm not involved in the AISee development anymore. As
far as I know, it is free for research usage.

An article about this is here from marc-alexandre
autret :
VCG was distributed freely, with good faith
under GPL, but the fact that it contains uglified
source code contradicts GPL (as RMS told me). So I
don't know its legal status. Still, I think if you
base your works on this, there will not be any
VCG 1.6 was never distributed. I'm willing to give
this to you, but I could imagine legal trouble,
because VCG 1.6 includes changes of VCG 1.5 which is
the base for aiSee.

>From this description you can see my point :
     We would certainly like to continue to distribute
the documented sources freely, but currently we have
the situation that we cannot continue in this
programmer-friendly way as before.      
Thus, we have uglified some of the files in the
distribution: these are the graph layout modules. 
These files are not anymore readable for human being,
but they are readeable for the compiler. 

Thus you can compile the sources as before, but you
cannot find out anymore how the details of the layout
algorithms work.


James Michael DuPont

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