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Re: softwarecombinations paper again Re: LGPL vs. GPL

From: Tim Smith
Subject: Re: softwarecombinations paper again Re: LGPL vs. GPL
Date: Sat, 02 Aug 2008 22:34:40 -0700
User-agent: MT-NewsWatcher/3.5.3b2 (Intel Mac OS X)

In article <s18lk.1378$>,
 Hyman Rosen <> wrote:
> Tim Smith wrote:
> > What does the success of Linux have to do with whether using different 
> > pieces of software in combination in various ways involves the 
> > derivative work preparation right?
> There's not much precedent for this question for software,
> as far as I know, so if someone demonstrates to a court that
> the straightforward meaning of the license has generally been
> accepted by industry, the court might just go along and allow
> it. Note that even organizations who might be considered as
> being opposed to the principles of the GPL, such as Microsoft,
> act as if its provisions are valid. They are careful to make
> sure that the software they license does not fall under the
> GPL, rather than arguing that the GPL does not work.

Plaintiff sues Defendant.  P alleges copyright violation, not GPL 
violation.  If D's defense was "yes, we did something that requires 
permission of the copyright holder, but P gave us permission via the GPL 
and we obeyed the GPL" then yes, maybe the success of Linux and other 
GPL projects might influence the court in deciding what the GPL means, 
so as to decide if D did indeed obey the GPL.

However, I believe the case we are talking about here is when D answers 
the copyright violation allegation with "we aren't doing anything that 
requires permission of the copyright holder".

For example, if I want to release a proprietary plug-in for GIMP, I *do* 
*not* *care* what GPL says about that, because I believe that I do not 
have to do anything in developing or distributing that plugin that 
requires permission of the GIMP copyright owners, and I do not believe 
users of my plugin have to do anything when using the plugin with GIMP 
that they require permission for (so I don't have to worry about 
contributory infringement, since there cannot be contributory 
infringement without direct infringement).  I've not heard any good 
argument from the FSF as to why the video game cases would not apply.

BTW, I would take exactly the same approach if making an unauthorized 
plug-in or extension for a commercial proprietary program.  I would 
attempt as far as possible to write my code so as to not be a derivative 
work of anything copyrightable I don't own or have *clear* permission to 

--Tim Smith

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