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Re: GNU License, Again

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: GNU License, Again
Date: Tue, 22 May 2007 00:21:07 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.1.50 (gnu/linux)

mike3 <> writes:

> He would not have to "bargain" for any copy of the GPL program.  And
> it (the GPL program) would not have a different license -- the only
> thing that has a different license is the non-GPL program.

But the non-GPL program has no use of its own.

>> The GPL is intended to guarantee the freedom of the code itself
>> _and_ descendants.
> And the non-GPL code suddenly then becomes a "descendant" of the GPL
> code the instant it is made dependent on the GPL code in _any_ way,
> shape, or form?

No.  The linked executable containing both parts is the descendant.
And the court may very well decide that you are in effect performing
distribution of this descendant if your code has no other viable
purpose, and if there is no viable non-GPLed source.

Note that this provides a problem for dual-licensed code like that
from Trolltech: they provide a GPLed version of their code, and they
sell a version that can be linked into proprietary programs.  Assuming
that those are the same, you can create and distribute a non-GPLed
program suppsed to link to the library, and you can, obviously, not be
sued for contributory infringement/distribution if your customer links
a copy of the library he obtained under the GPL into it.  As long as
the customer does not redistribute, he also does not violate the GPL.

So this is a weakness with the somewhat popular GPLed/proprietary dual
licensing model.  Basically, the "contributory infringement" theory
(which has not really seen much of a test in court, but still legal
departments don't seem eager to take the test) stops working as soon
as there is a drop-in alternative to a GPLed library, whether from the
same source or somewhere else.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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