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Re: GNU licenses

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: GNU licenses
Date: Sat, 02 Sep 2006 09:30:11 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux) writes:

> David Kastrup wrote:
>> writes:
>> > I've been wondering about the GNU software and documentation license.
>> > For one thing, although the goals are decent, I don't like what I
>> > percieve as it's "viral" nature.
>> Too bad, since it is that which ensures the status.
>> > Furthermore, does this actually exist, anyway? For example, if I
>> > write a 1,000 page book, and take ONE PARAGRAPH of a GNU document
>> > and stick it in, does this mean all 1,000 pages of MY OWN ORIGINAL
>> > WORK are all suddenly GNU, or can I just mark that 1 paragraph as
>> > such, while keeping copyright to my _original work_?
>> Nothing ever is "all suddenly GNU".  Everything written by yourself is
>> yours to license at your choice.  Like everything written by some GNU
>> maintainer is his to license at his choice.  And his choice is "if you
>> make this or parts of it a part of something else, I grant you
>> permission for that only if you license your stuff under the GPL."
>> You are free to decide _not_ to license your stuff under the GPL, but
>> then you have no business sticking GPLed software in it.  If you do,
>> this does not make your software GPLed (this never happens
>> automatically), but it means that you are breaking the license of the
>> stuff you use, and you can be sued to amend this.  It will usually be
>> your choice whether you amend by removing the GPLed part, or by
>> complying to the license.
>> > If it's the former, then it sucks. I'm sorry, but it does.
>> Sure.  Of course it sucks.  It is the purpose of _any_ regulation or
>> law or license to make it suck when you want to go against the
>> license.
>> > Same thing goes for software. If I include 2 lines of GNU code
>> > (yes, just two lines) in my big fat 300,000 line program, does
>> > that mean all the remaining 299,998 lines of original work are
>> > suddenly GNU?
>> No.  It means that you are doing something with the 2 lines of GNU
>> code for which you have no permission.  Now concerning 2 lines, you
>> actually might not need permission (they might well be under the
>> "trivial" threshold after which copyright law actually starts being
>> relevant).  But if you do, you have the choices of either
>> complying, or taking the 2 lines out, or negotiating an individual
>> license with the author of the 2 lines so that you don't need to
>> GPL your stuff.
>> But the one thing that you can't do is take his material and do
>> with it as you like without heeding its license.
> But why forbid it?

Because obviously it is the only thing that will keep you from
exploiting GPLed software as a part of non-free software.  Otherwise
you would not be whining here.  Free software has an agenda, and the
agenda is that software should be free.  So if you want to create
non-free software, you are out on your own.  GPLed software does not
keep you from doing it, but it will not help you with the process.

> It's like you either GNU _EVERYTHING_ not just that little code or
> book FRAGMENT or NONE AT ALL. WHY is this done?!  Here's something
> else: if I use a GNU library with my non- GNU program, does this
> mean that I have to GNU the whole thing or I'm breaking the license?

Sure.  That is the intent.  There may be some particular circumstances
where copyright law considers a library as an independent work (most
likely, if the library conforms to an independent API like POSIX), but
relying on that without good legal advice and the pockets to follow it
through in court if necessary, would be not too smart.

>> > Or could I just release the two lines and keep the majority of my
>> > program closed-source or under a different license? If it's the
>> > former, it sucks too. If it's the latter, it's OK.
>> Sure it sucks.  It is intended to suck.
>> > So, is this "viral" thing true? If so, I don't like it. Free
>> > software, free documentation, "free" stuff is a good idea, but
>> > this implementation of it, sadly, is not. It's creating "open"
>> > stuff by FORCE, and that's not acceptable (and it's not really
>> > "open" either since you've got to GNU and "open up" your own code
>> > (GNU definition of "open it up") even if you don't like the GNU
>> > method!!!). The idea of keeping the free code free is good, but
>> > the idea of FORCING a person to "free" their ORIGINAL WORK is
>> > not.
>> It is the only thing that works on a large scale, seemingly.
> I don't know. It doesn't seem like a good deal to me... why do you
> want to make other people's code free as a "price" for using "free"
> code?

Because, as your incessant whining shows, that is the the only thing
that works.  If you are not prohibited doing so, you'll be happy to
employ free software for the purpose of creating unfree software.

And exactly that is what the GPL does not permit.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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