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Re: GPL traitor !

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: GPL traitor !
Date: Sat, 09 May 2009 10:43:09 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/23.0.92 (gnu/linux)

Erik Funkenbusch <> writes:

> On Fri, 8 May 2009 09:58:11 +0000 (UTC), Alan Mackenzie wrote:
>> Dynamic linking, along with static linking, compilation,
>> interpretation, profiling, and other specific techniques used by
>> hackers are not covered by the GPL - they're outside its scope, and
>> would be more of matter of patents than a copyright license, were
>> they patentable.
> Gee, you should really tell the FSF that.
> "If the program dynamically links plug-ins, and they make function
> calls to each other and share data structures, we believe they form a
> single program, which must be treated as an extension of both the main
> program and the plug-ins. This means that combination of the
> GPL-covered plug-in with the non-free main program would violate the
> GPL."
> Funny, but even YOU don't seem to understand the GPL that nobody could
> possibly misunderstand.  Or maybe it's the FSF that doesn't understand
> it.

Or maybe you don't have a clue what "outside its scope" means.  The FSF
is talking about the applicability of copyright law.  The contents of
the GPL are not at issue here.  Absolutely the same scope problem occurs
for the BSD license.  And the answer may be different in different
jurisdictions.  The FSF says "we believe" here.  Which refers to
interpreting existing case law.  Not case law about the GPL, but case
law about copyright.

> You're not doing a good job of proving your point.

If his point was that most people calling the GPL hard to interpret have
no clue what they are actually talking about, _you_ prove that point
pretty well.

> The GPL is vague, and frequently misunderstood.

The GPL is not merely "vague" with regard to restating copyright law,
but does not really go there.  If that makes you misunderstand
copyright, it's no skin off the FSF's nose.

> Actually, no.  The GPL says nothing about charging for the license.

Huh?  Check out chapter 6 in the current GPL version, and search for the
string "at no".  There are about 4 instances or so of that, where "at no
further charge" and its equivalent are mentioned.  Chapter 6 is about
conveying binaries, and it makes repeatedly clear that access and
license to the source code then have to be provided without additional

> However, in effect that is correct.  The FSF says you can charge any
> fee you like for the software.

Yes.  But licensing and source code need to be included in the charge.

> The point is, many people think the GPL only allows you to charge a
> "nominal fee" for the software, when in fact the GPL says you may only
> charge a noninal fee to distribute the source.  It says nothing about
> the fee to sell the program.


> Even the spirit of the GPL is not fully understood.  We have a good
> idea of what the FSF thinks the spirit is, but many other people,
> including die hard GPL advocates disagree with the FSF.

A license has no spiritual essence independent of its existence.
Everyone inventing his own "spirit" has equal rights.  However, it may
have _intent_, and the person to vouch for _that_ is the creator, namely
the FSF.  Its "spirit", if one wants to speculate about that sort of
thing, may include _unintended_ consequences, possibly merely because
they are unavoidable or a tradeoff.

> You cannot understand the GPL without understanding the wider chaos of
> copyright law.  That's why the GPL is not easy to understand.

Since that applies to any license, it's disingenuous to blame the GPL
for that specifically.

David Kastrup

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