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Re: Use of GPL'd code with proprietary programs

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: Use of GPL'd code with proprietary programs
Date: Tue, 06 Jul 2004 11:40:37 +0200

Arnoud Engelfriet wrote:
> This interpretation is based on the assumption that linking creates a
> so-called derivative work under copyright law. As far as I know there
> is no case law on this point, so it is difficult to be certain about
> this. I would expect a prudent lawyer to recommend to his clients to
> interpret the license in the 'worst' light, i.e. to assume that
> linking does create a derivative work.
(by Matt Asay, written for Professor Larry Lessig)


as Jerry Epplin has written, kernel developers have consistently 
supported such an open interpretation by accepting the presence of 
proprietary hardware drivers. This tolerance of proprietary drivers 
has held for a very long time, and numerous hardware manufacturers 
currently depend on it.42 This essentially means that the core of 
the system is off-limits (for tampering without sharing), but that 
the core is open as an acceptable platform to build upon by creating 
programs that leverage its functionality without stealing that 
functionality and calling it one's own. This reading of the GPL has 
become so prevalent in the past year that StallmanÂ’s opinion on the 
matter is largely irrelevant. The GPL has effectively merged with 
the industry standard reading of derivatives in US software law.

(Software Derivative Work: A Circuit Dependent Determination)

No judge in his right mind can ever consider linking to be 
exclusive privilege of software copyright owner.
(try to apply the same logic to software copies).


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