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Re: The worst that can happen to GPLed code

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: The worst that can happen to GPLed code
Date: Thu, 17 Jun 2004 19:01:49 +0200

Lee Hollaar wrote:
> So, by some strained logic, you claim that ...

FSF folks simply don't understand the copyright. Well, they're bluffing 
of course. How can one seriously think that contaminating food with 
"toxic waste" (14:10 in the recording below) is legal?

< > 
("GPL Compliance for Programmers" by David Turner, "GPL Compliance 
 Engineer" of FSF's "GPL Compliance Lab" <I can't stop laughing>)

This is also relevant:

Subject: RE: Effect of the MySQL FLOSS License Exception? 
From: "Lawrence Rosen" <> 
Date: Wed, 16 Jun 2004 22:56:19 -0700 


Glen Low wrote:
> [Humor aside, if the code I'm linking with MySQL is on their approved
> FLOSS list, what functionally is the difference between MySQL being LGPL
> and it being GPL + FLOSS Exception?]

Probably no difference at all.

This entire matter has been blown way out of proportion because of the
insistence of some that the reciprocity conditions of the GPL or LGPL reach
to something more than derivative works. But if you read the actual terms of
both licenses carefully in light of the copyright law definitions of
*collective works* and *derivative works*, then mere linking to any Program
-- treating the Program as a black box with hooks for connectivity -- does
not lead to reciprocity under either license. The LGPL and the GPL have the
same effect -- that is, NO EFFECT -- on the licenses of independent and
separate other works that merely link.

As for the MySQL License Exception, I believe its interpretation of the
effects of the GPL, and its description of what happens when you create
*collective works* with MySQL and other open source software, is accurate. I
also happen to believe that this "Exception" doesn't need to be an exception
at all, because that's how the GPL should be interpreted anyway.
"Independent and separate works" can never be forced under the GPL if they
are not *derivative works* of GPL programs. The MySQL folks have tried to
eliminate confusion about their licenses by stating in their own words what
the GPL and LGPL really do anyway. 

John Cowan is also right in describing this as benefit to MySQL AB.
Improvements to the MySQL Program itself remain open source, and
high-quality independent and separate works that interact with MySQL
increase opportunities to sell MySQL AB software and services. The MySQL
trademark remains a valuable symbol of quality.

Open source companies like MySQL need to reassure their customers about the
reach of the GPL and LGPL. I recently wrote a similarly reassuring paper
about the LGPL for JBoss customers that they've posted on the
website. You can read it here: we use the lgpl.pdf.


Lawrence Rosen 
Rosenlaw & Einschlag, technology law offices (
General counsel, Open Source Initiative ( 
3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482 
707-485-1242 * fax: 707-485-1243 


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