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Re: Use of GPL'd code with proprietary programs

From: Martin Dickopp
Subject: Re: Use of GPL'd code with proprietary programs
Date: Fri, 09 Jul 2004 21:04:01 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.1006 (Gnus v5.10.6) Emacs/21.3 (gnu/linux) (Christopher C. Stacy) writes:

>>>>>> On Fri, 09 Jul 2004 13:28:28 +0200, Martin Dickopp ("Martin") writes:
>  Martin> (Christopher C. Stacy) writes:
>  >> Eben's other assertion is that the GPL is a license contract
>  Martin> Such an assertion would be in direct contrast to various of his
>  Martin> writings, e.g. <>.
>  Martin> Can you please provide a reference where he said that the GPL is
>  Martin> a contract?
> A key point in Moglen's arguments, presented in the affidavit that he
> submitted in the PROGRESS case that I cited, is the intent of the license.
> We are speaking of "enforcing" an "agreement".
> Are you disputing that Moglen's position is that the intent of the
> license should be a determining factor in whether or not its terms
> have been breached?

No, where am I disputing anything?  I was just a bit surprised by your
statement, since I've read several texts by Moglen where he explicitly
states that the GPL is /not/ a contract (and I've provided a reference
to one such text).  I'm not disputing that Moglen contradicts himself,
I'm asking for a reference.

>  >> It seems more likely that they knew exactly what they were doing, and
>  >> that from the outset they were hoping to establish new case law by
>  >> changing the legal meaning of "derivative work",
>  Martin> I don't think dynamic linking was all that common when the GPL was
>  Martin> crafted; I'm not even sure if it existed at all.  Can you provide 
> some
>  Martin> evidence that and how they took it into account?
> Dynamic linking goes back to the 1960s; Stallman was involved in the work
> starting in the mid 1970s.  I worked with him at MIT decades ago and have
> personal knowledge that RMS was entirely aware of this technology, which 
> was old hat and quite common by then.  (Unix didn't get it until much later,
> though, and personal computers hadn't been invented yet.)

Okay, I'll take your word that he was fully aware of dynamic linking.

>  >> Trying to set such precedents would be consistent with the goals of
>  >> their clearly stated agenda, which boils down to a radical
>  >> de-legitimization of intellectual property rights
>  Martin> Sorry, but I have no idea what you're talking about, mostly because
>  Martin> "intellectual property" is a fuzzy term which encompasses such wildly
>  Martin> different concepts as copyright, patents, and trademarks.
>  Martin> Can you provide some evidence that the FSF's positions on copyright,
>  Martin> patents, and trademarks are identical, if that's what you're saying?
> I'm speaking primarily of copyrights here, but RMS also fights software
> patents.  Read some of his writings, especially the earlier ones, or just
> talk to him.

I believe I have read most of his writings, but I don't think that he
has the same position on copyrights and software patents.  I also don't
think he has the same position on trademarks or non-software patents as
on either copyrights or software patents.

>  >> So, Martin Dickopp, can you explain the answer that you gave Alexander
>  >> Terekhov by telling us what "derivative work" you are referring to and
>  >> how it was created?
>  Martin> Yes, Christopher C. Stacy, I think that the interpretation of the
>  Martin> FSF is most likely to persist in court, on the ground that so far,
>  Martin> no violator has had the guts to challenge the FSF's position in 
> court.
> Well, you say, "Yes", but then you don't answer the question at all!

I would have thought that expressing agreement with the position of the
FSF answers the question, but I can of course be more explicit.  I am
referring to a derivative work created by linking a program with a

If large portions of the library become part of the executable file when
it is created, I believe the executable to be a derivative of the
library.  An example of this case is the C++ standard library, because
large parts of it consist of inline functions in header files.

If no part of the library needs to be present on the system where the
executable is created, I believe the executable itself is not a derivate
work of the library, but the moment both are loaded, a derivative work
of both has been created.  A memory dump of the running program could
only be distributed if the license terms of both the executable and the
library are followed.

> Instead, you make the claim that the FSF's interpretation has
> "persisted" in court

Where do I make such a claim?  I don't think "is most likely to persist
in court" is the same as "has persisted in court".

> Can you show me some examples of where you think some of these "large
> corporations" that you speak of should have brought such an action?

I don't think they should have.  Because I believe that the FSF would
have won in court, I think the corporations have acted wisely by abiding
by the license terms instead of going to court.

> So, Martin Dickopp, can you explain the answer that you gave Alexander
> Terekhov by telling us what "derivative work" you are referring to and
> how it was created?
> I'm only interested in an answer to that one specific question,

I will nevertheless take the liberty to also reply to other statements
than that one specific question.

> and until that's answered, I won't be responding to you at all on any
> other topic.

That is certainly your right, but I am somewhat mystified why you
annouce it in advance instead of simply doing it.


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