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Re: Use of GPL'd code with proprietary programs

From: telford
Subject: Re: Use of GPL'd code with proprietary programs
Date: Sun, 18 Jul 2004 05:28:12 -0000

In gnu.misc.discuss Isaac <> wrote:

> I agree with you.  But the need to push is a problem of the FSFs own
> making.

No, for negotiating purposes they must push at exactly as hard as their
opponents are pushing.

> By using a license the removes the possibility of contributory
> infringement claims because it allows the users to run the software
> without limitations, the FSF is limited to asking the court to find
> direct infringement where most likely none exists.

This is true, but it is still better for the FSF to hold the fear of a
potential court case in the air in order to curb GPL misuse.

>> court then the judge would be left with a difficult decision:
>> a ruling in favour of the FSF would strengthen GPL and become a
>> confidence boost for the entire "Free Software" community,
>> on the other hand, a ruling against the GPL would be a precedent for
>> limiting the definition of derivative work and hence would weaken
>> a lot of other copyright claims (e.g. Microsoft's MFC libraries
>> or SCO's "application binary interface" claims or Sony's claim to own
>> the right to license all Playstation software regardless of authorship).

> Haven't the Sonys of the world already lost their part of this fight
> to the Connectixes of the world?

I wasn't familiar with Sony vs Connectix. Now I look at it, seems that
the battle was mostly faught on patent issues and that Connectix has only
achieved a partial victory. Still, it is a good step towards courts realising
that IP law should not be allowed to curb product compatibility. Has a similar
case been fought using copyright law?

Anyhow, I was NOT thinking along the lines of being able to run playstation
games on an emulator... I was talking about being able to WRITE your own
playstation games and run them on an unchipped playstation. Sony is still
very successful at controlling the market for the PS2,  they do it by
using a boot sequence on the DVD that is encrypted (so you can't write your
own). The boot sequence installs a tiny kernel (a bit like VMware) and throws
the hardware into a sort of virtual machine mode for the real game to operate.
This means that the programmer never has true access to the machine hardware
and it also means that if you want to release your own game you must buy a
license from Sony for that boot sequence and VM code or else your program
will not run.

Thus, they use copyright law to prevent anyone marketing compatible PS2 games
without paying their "Sony tax", in effect they control the entire PS2
game development market.

In many ways the FSF is trying to do the same with GPL libraries (although
the FSF is doing a lot less because they are not locking up entire hardware
platforms). I believe that both approaches are wrong, but I don't want to
see the FSF give in unless the rest of the industry also put down their swords.

        - Tel

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