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Re: Is this circumvention of the GPL?

From: James Michael DuPont
Subject: Re: Is this circumvention of the GPL?
Date: Sat, 6 Apr 2002 09:48:38 -0800 (PST)

That was a quote from Mr. Sanders Speaking to Mr.
Autret on Wed Aug 22 12:30:20 2001
>From the mail archive :
marc-alexandre autret
Mon, 27 Aug 2001 16:43:35 +0000 (GMT)
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Sorry for the last message. :) Here is the content.
->From Wed Aug 22 12:30:20 2001
->Subject: Re: xvcg
->From: Georg Sander <>
->Date: Wed, 22 Aug 2001 12:27:16 +0200 Hi, > The
integration of VCG in Bison is successful.
> I have the project to maintain xvcg and
> subscribe it as a GNU project...
> Could you tell me what you think about that and/or
> if you see any problem.
a few years back, I talked to RMS about VCG and he
disliked the fact
that in version 1.3x, the layout algorithms are
delivered in uglified
source code. Unfortunately, at that time, I could not
change it. In the current situation, there are various
versions out: * VCG         with full
readable source code
* VCG 1.30 / Unix:     with readable source code but
uglified source files
                       of the layout part (5 files).
* VCG 1.4x / Windows:  distributed always as binaries,
because Windows people
                       don't care about sources. BTW:
I mean Windows 3.1. It is
                       loooong time ago, Windows 95
did not exist yet. Besides that, there are two more
versions: * My latest working version. Let's call it
1.6, because it is more advanced
  than the distributed Windows or Unix version. This
version is for UNIX mainly. * aiSee (
The software tool iaSee is based on the VCG sources
  somewhen between 1.4x and 1.6. Let's call this 1.5.
The company absInt
  basically wrote a Windows NT interface for it, and
they sell it now.
  aiSee is free for noncomercial usage. The version
numbers 1.5 and 1.6 are fictuous, just to understand
the situation.
There were never any versions with these numbers
officially distributed. It is a long story. Around
1996, I left the University, and afterwards,
support for VCG went to sleep, because I couldn't
support it anymore, and the
students remaining at the University weren't
interested enough or did it only
half hearted. Around 1998 some of these students
formed a company called AbsInt
and they included aiSee in their product line. This
seems to be legal, because
the University is the copyright holder and gave them
the permission, and when
they asked me, I told them that I don't care, so in
principle they have also
my permission. In 1999 I was even shortly employed by
them and helped on aiSee,
because my knowledge about the internals of VCG seems
still superior than
their's. I left AbsInt after one month again; it
simply wasn't my thing
5~anymore. See for
the story. Now, if VCG becomes a GNU project, there
may be a legal issue concerning
aiSee. In principle, I'm willing to give everyone my
latest working version
(VCG, not aiSee) in full sources, but of course I'm
not at all interested
in legal issues related to this. My understanding is
now (and I'm not a lawyer):    VCG is GPL, and
when you base your work on this, I cannot imagine
   any trouble.    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 trouble.   
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. If someone wants to take
over VCG, I'd propose to use a different
name for it, e.g. GNU-VCG (gvcg) or something like
that, just to avoid
legal confusion. Officially, GNU-VCG should be based
on VCG 1.0 or maybe 1.3.
I'll send you the sources of VCG 1.3 (nonuglified),
and maybe of 1.6, if
legally possible (I don't know yet). If someone can
make a public repository
for it where people can contribute via net-CVS, then
we should quickly be
at a stage superior to 1.6 again ... Regards -- 
Georg --
Autret Marc (
Eleve Ingenieur en Informatique.

James Michael DuPont

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