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Re: Using a script licensed under GPL in an application licensed under a

From: Stefaan A Eeckels
Subject: Re: Using a script licensed under GPL in an application licensed under a license that's not compatible with GPL
Date: Thu, 14 Dec 2006 23:30:16 +0100

On Thu, 14 Dec 2006 18:03:37 +0100 (CET)
"Alfred M. Szmidt" <> wrote:

>    > My application consists of a collection of scripts (full source
>    > distributed) licensed under a license that I'll call A.  I want
>    > to distribute with my application, the source version of a script
>    > licensed under GPL. This script (source) will be imported and
>    > used at runtime by my application.
>    > 
>    > Is this allowed when license A is not compatible with GPL ?
>    Yes. Your scripts are not based on or derived from that script, so
>    it cannot have an influence on the copyright status of your
>    original work.  It's what is called "mere aggregation" in the GPL.
> This is completely wrong.  The source code is not merly aggregated, it
> is actually imported by the program.  And thus constitutes a deriviate
> work.  It is exactly the same situation with linking a binary.
> It would be a different situation if it was a program that would
> execute the GPL script.

In which case the result of this process on the computer where it is
running would be a derivative (not deriviate - you must be thinking of
"opiate" :) work of both scripts.

The scripts of the OP are written by the OP, and contain no code of the
GPLed script. They cannot be a derivative work of the GPLed script.
They use the functionality of the script, just as they use the
functionality of the script interpreter that is used to run them. A
bash script is not a derivative work of bash. A script that sources or
calls another script is not a derivative work of that script.

Where I can have some (but not much) sympathy for the claim that a
compiled program that is dynamically linked to a library should be
considered a derivative work (a functionally identical, but statically
linked program would contain material from the library), the idea that
"include" type statements create derivative works is asinine. 

It is especially asinine because it makes every source program a
derivative work of the OS or at least the libraries it uses. If this
type of reference is recognised as creating a derivative work, it
becomes impossible to write a program, because the copyright statutes
forbid the preparation of derivative works without the consent of the
copyright holder. 

If writing ". /foo/bar" in a shell script makes the _source_ code of the
shell script a derivative work of /foo/bar, programming essentially
becomes impossible, because then you cannot write those 10 characters
without the permission of the author of /foo/bar.

Stefaan A Eeckels
When the need is strong, there are those who will believe anything.
                                                    -- Arnold Lobel

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