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Re: GPL question

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: GPL question
Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 23:47:40 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/23.0.51 (gnu/linux) writes:

> On May 15, 8:07 pm, "Alfred M. Szmidt" <> wrote:
>>    Suppose I used some GPL code (e.g. linux kernel linked lists) in my
>>    own project, which is also under GPL. However I have the copyright
>>    for the bits that I wrote, possibly more than a non-trivial %90 of
>>    it. Can I still dual license the project?
>> No.  The 10% is copyrighted by someone else, and you cannot change the
>> license of that.
> Thanks to all for your comments. I am using others' GPL code in my
> project since my intention is to release it also under GPL. Its just
> that I also want to have control over the parts that I own the
> copyright for (the first that comes to mind is being able to license
> it in another license). It seems I do have the right to do what I
> want for the part that I own at least.

Quite likely.  With sculptures, making a cast that is pretty on the
outside does not allow you, after removing the inside, to use the cast
for creating doubles.  In software, the ties are rarely as close as

> This also comes down to another point I am not clear about: if I am
> using the interface of a GPL'ed library implementation, do I own the
> copyright for the parts where I used this interface?

You own copyright for whatever creative expression you create.  There
are just some cases where you can't disentangle your copyright from
that of someone else.

> For instance if I use functions from a C library that is under GPL?
> I don't own the library implementation, but what about any instance
> of symbols I use in my code?

Defined interfaces are not usually considered to create copyrightable
entities as long as they don't contain sufficient creative content by

> For example if I am not wrong, ReiserFS can be licensed under
> non-GPL licenses if its author wants to do so, and yet it is tightly
> coupled with the linux kernel, using many functions from it (linked
> lists, spinlocks etc.).  Perhaps this is possible?

Not while it uses the kernel functions in a way specific to the
kernel.  If you can drop it without change into Solaris (say), then it
is not bound to the particular kernel as an entity in itself.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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