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Re: Microsoft's Linux Kernel Code Drop Result of GPL Violation

From: Hyman Rosen
Subject: Re: Microsoft's Linux Kernel Code Drop Result of GPL Violation
Date: Sun, 26 Jul 2009 22:22:41 -0400
User-agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20090605)

Florian Weimer wrote:
* Hyman Rosen:
I think it's clear if static linking is involved, but others
may disagree (especially here :-)
I used to think it was clear, but there's this curious lack of
enforcement, so I've got doubts.

There is no lack of enforcement. You are misunderstanding a use
which is legal under the GPL, so no enforcement is needed.

Unless the component accompanies the executable.

I still don't know what this means.

It's true that I don't understand the sytem library exception in
version 3 of the GPL.  The condition, "included in the normal form of
packaging a Major Component, but which is not part of that Major
Component", doesn't make much sense to me.  How can be something which
is normally included with something not be considered part of
something else?

The idea is that a system library is something that you link into
a program in order to allow that program to make use of the service
of a component. So libc is not part of the operating system, but it
contains routines which make operating system services available to
the program which links with it. And libc is normally included with
the operating system.

Interix (Microsoft?) GCC does not link directly against Windows
run-time libraries, but against a proprietary Interix libc, which
comes with Interix GCC.

Interix is UNIX Services for Windows. I see no particular reason
to regard that any differently than Solaris, or SCO, or any other
form of UNIX. It's an operating system component supplied by
Microsoft, and it comes with a libc with which programs link if
they need services from that component.

This not really different from GPLed programs linking QPL libraries
(like KDE did several years ago) or BSD-with-advertising-clause
libraries (OpenSSL still haunts us today), or GPLv3 libraries (if the
program is GPLv2; there's quite a bit of trouble coming up in this

There is certainly the possibility of argument over whether some
component should fall under the system library exception. A major
problem for any version of the GPL is that it still envisions an
environment of statically linked executables. It is toothless in
an environment of dynamically linked libraries and services which
communicate over the network, because there is no way a copyright
license can affect those.

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