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Re: Use of GPL'd code with proprietary programs

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: Use of GPL'd code with proprietary programs
Date: Mon, 12 Jul 2004 18:16:19 +0200

On Mon, 12 Jul 2004 17:00:31 +0200
Alexander Terekhov <> wrote:

> Stefaan A Eeckels wrote:
> > 
> > On Mon, 12 Jul 2004 12:42:06 +0200
> > Alexander Terekhov <> wrote:
> > 
> > > -----
> > > // Also GPL'ed (derivative work; modifications are non-copyrightable
> > > // [too little creativity] but still falls under reciprocation
> > > provision)// stuff2.c
> > > f(/*...*) {
> > >   // qsort(/*...*/);   @@... REMOVED ...
> > >   my_sort(/*...*/); // @@... ADDED (same interface)
> > > }
> > >
> > >
> > > -----
> > > // my_sort.c implementation of my_sort() NOT UNDER THE GPL
> > >
> > > If you claim that I have to GPL "my_sort.c" (when I distribute both
> > > stuff2.c/o and my_sort.c/o as part of some aggregation/compilation)
> > > then THIS IS MISUSE.
> > 
> > No need to get emotional. Nobody forces you to GPL your code,
> > and nothing but the GPL allows you to redistribute the code
> > you obtained. Your desire to distribute a modified version of
> > someone else's code does not give you the right to do so, 
> The *modified* code (stuff2.c, which is derived from the stuff.c 
> ordiginal) remains under the GPL. You should stop playing idiot,
> really.
No-one says that your "my-sort" module should be under
the GPL (or a compatible license, for completeness' sake), as
long as what you distribute is clearly an aggregation of your
work and the GPLed work. The GPL quite clearly says so, hence
in order to make quite clear that you are distributing the
GPLed work and your work separately, place them in different
hierarchies in your distribution. No problem with that at all.
If you think the GPL isn't free enough, use the BSDL. 

It seems to me that what you want to do is to take a GPLed
work, add your closed-source binary module, and distribute the
result as an executable that only works when your module and
the GPLed work are executed together. If this is the case (and
you _do_ bluster a lot, but remain vague on what your intentions
are), and if I were the author of the GPLed work, I would sue you.
I would also sue you if I discovered that you had copied source
code from my GPLed program for one of your closed-source programs,
and I would not be swayed by the fact that you downloaded a copy
of my GPLed program for each of the closed-source copies you 
distribute. I really don't care if you call it a derivative work,
a compilation, or an aggregation; I'll simply sue you, and see
how we fare in court. 

There is, as far as I am concerned, no moral base to your 
position. Nobody forces you to use a GPLed work, and the
intention of the authors of GPLed works is clear. Your 
pathetic display of legal chicanery doesn't hide the simple
fact that you want to benefit from other people's code
without respecting their clearly stated wishes, whereas 
you vociferously clamour the right to dispose of your code
as you please. 

The simple fact remains that you are not obliged to use
GPLed code. You don't like the license - fine, don't
use the code. If you'd like to use another Open Source
license, contact the authors and ask their approval. 
If you want distribute a closed source program, write
the lot yourself, or buy it. That's the honourable behaviour. 

"What is stated clearly conceives easily."  -- Inspired sales droid

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