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Re: More GPL questions

From: Merijn de Weerd
Subject: Re: More GPL questions
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2006 20:15:18 +0200
User-agent: slrn/ (FreeBSD)

On 2006-10-16, Alfred M. Szmidt <> wrote:
>    >    This example program would dynamically link to both Qt and my
>    >    sdk's library.
>    >
>    > This would make this non-free SDK library a derivate of Qt and
>    > the example program.
>    I disagree. 
> And the FSF disagrees with you.  From the GPL FAQ
> (
> Q: You have a GPL'ed program that I'd like to link with my code to
> build a proprietary program. Does the fact that I link with your
> program mean I have to GPL my program?
> A: Yes.

That's not the same question as the OP was asking. 

The OP's library does not link with the GPL library. Both
libraries link with the example program. That means the
example program has to be GPL when it is distributed in 
this fashion ("[W]hen you distribute the same sections 
as part of a whole which is a work based on the Program, 
the distribution of the whole must be [under GPL]").

However, as the GPL itself correctly notes, "this License, and
its terms, do not apply to [independent] sections when you 
distribute them as separate works."

Anyway, "have to be GPL" is very sloppy wording. It implies
that somehow an obligation arises to release code under GPL,
or even more strongly that the GPL just automagically applies
to the OP's library. Using that kind of imprecise terminology
allows companies like Microsoft to accuse the GPL of 
being "viral". 

The OP's library is not and cannot "become GPL" in any way
shape or form - except when it is distributed as part of
the combined work *and* the OP chooses to adhere to the GPL.
Even then, the original library is still its independent
original self. The license terms to that library as such do
not change. People are free to take the combined work, strip
off the sample and redistribute the result, of course. But
the OP still has his library and his freedom to license it
any way he wants. So saying that the library "is now GPL"
is misleading. 

The more correct terminology is that the OP can only distribute
the resulting (i.e. linked) work as a whole under the GPL.
If he cannot do that, "then as a consequence [the OP] may not 
distribute the Program at all." No infection, just a legal
choice: either release under GPL, or don't release at all.


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