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Re: More GPL questions

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: More GPL questions
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 2006 22:57:30 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux)

"Alfred M. Szmidt" <> writes:

> It should be noted to all that Davids opinion is exactly that, his
> own; it is also a complete misrepresentation of the opinion of the
> FSF.  The FSF has been clear on this point, in that a
> GPL-incompatible work that links to a GPL work is illegal.


The GPL states, among other things:

    Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are
    not covered by this License; they are outside its scope.  The act
    of running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the
    Program is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on
    the Program (independent of having been made by running the


    These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole.  If
    identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the
    Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate
    works in themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not
    apply to those sections when you distribute them as separate
    works.  But when 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 on the terms of this License, whose permissions
    for other licensees extend to the entire whole, and thus to each
    and every part regardless of who wrote it.

    Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest
    your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the intent is to
    exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative or
    collective works based on the Program.


> This is both answered in the FAQ, and in other spots on

I recommend reading <URL:> and
judging so for yourself.  It states, for example:


which makes clear the mechanism by which a combined executable to be
covered as a whole by the GPL is affected by non-GPLed libraries.  It
is certainly not by the non-GPLed libraries suddenly becoming
derivatives of any other code.

> David often resorts to lies, FUD, and other personal attacks,


> I suggest to all that they should be ignored just like the messages
> from Alexander Terekhov.

When in doubt, I recommend preferring the GPL FAQ to Alfred's advice,
or asking copyright-clerk at gnu dot org.  This will give you the
FSF's legal point of view, an interpretation that has held up pretty
well in real life, so much that it has seen little exposure in courts:
most companies prefer not going against this point of view and prefer
settling over litigation.

Unfortunately, Alfred's enthusiasm for free software often gets the
better of him and makes him claim theories that are not supported by
even the FSF.  So when in doubt, rather consult the relevant FAQs,
license texts and the responsible FSF personnel for getting the FSF's

Terekhov's advice can, I agree with that, mostly be disregarded
because he tends to err on the other far out side with his legal
theories, and then gets annoyed if the courts and judges don't
actually behave like he would want them to.

It is unfortunate that the advice of several frequent participants in
this group leaves a lot to be desired with regard to its reliability
and groundedness in reality.  Common sense helps quite a bit in
sifting the information, and where one wants to get the FSF's input on
the legal ramifications of a license they at least designed, use, and
defend, this is also easily available.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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