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Re: GNU licenses

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: GNU licenses
Date: Sun, 03 Sep 2006 09:35:26 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux) writes:

> David Kastrup wrote:
>> writes:
>> > David Kastrup wrote:
>> >> writes:
>> >>


>> >> > 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.
> Oh, so it's not just to keep the GNU'd software free, but it's also,
> and this seems more important, to create NEW free software by
> "force" if you will.

That is no force.  It is the condition for its use.  You are free to
take it or leave it, just like when you are in a supermarket, nobody
forces you to buy anything.  If you do, you have to pay the price.

> If you want to use GNU code in your program then ALL of your
> ORIGINAL WORK related to that program has to be GNU as well, you
> can't just publish that code FRAGMENT and keep the rest secret and
> under your control.

Sure.  That's the condition for using GNU code in your program.

>> 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.
> So then are you saying that this guy, Thomas Biskup, is in VIOLATION
> of the GNU General Public License because he is withholding the full
> source code to his computer game, Ancient Domains of Mystery, which
> is compiled and built (and written!!!) with GNU libraries such as
> PDCurses?:

You should be careful with throwing unfounded accusations around,
there are laws against slander.  In particular, "PDCurses", as can
easily be guessed from its name, is _not_ licensed under the GPL but
is in the Public Domain.

> Does this mean we might be able to finally get ADOM's source code
> made public if we wanted to throw enough muscle behind it?

That would be considerable muscle.  The only one permitted to pursue a
license violation is the copyright holder.  So _if_ you find some
piece of code used against its license (and PDCurses certainly is
_not_ such code), you have to acquire the copyright holder of that
piece.  He is the only one who can press charges for violation of the

>> > I don't know. It doesn't seem like a good deal to me...

Nobody forces you to make it.  If you don't like the license, just
keep off the code.

>> > 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.
> Ie. it's designed to not only keep the already-free software free
> but also to force people to make their own _original works_ free if
> they want to use GNU free code.

If they want to make it part of their "original work", yes, they have
to follow the rules.

> To me this seems like a way to bring down the software industry and
> get rid of creator's rights to profit or control their OWN works.
> Is that what you are saying?

Not at all.  As long as you work is your OWN, you can do with it what
you want.  But if your work contains GPLed parts and you don't acquire
a different license, you are bound by the GPL's conditions.

It is the same if your work contains EULAd parts and you don't acquire
a different license, except that the GPL'l condition allow
distribution under conditions, whereas the EULA doesn't.

In all cases, if you don't like the license conditions of some code
you want to use, leave it alone, or negotiate (and likely buy)
different usage conditions.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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