How not to follow the GNU GPL

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Richard Stallman

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May 9, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/9/98
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Be Inc. has made an announcement to explain carefully how it follows
the rules of the GNU GPL:

We use GPL code for malloc, termcap and crypt. This are
directly linked into the kernel, libroot, telnet, telnetd, top,
and zbeos (the BeOS Intel bootloader). We have a single
downloadable archive called gnu_x86.tar.gz that contains
makefiles, the GNU source code, and object files that allow you
to rebuild these components. We also use GPL code for our 3Com
3C905 Ethernet drivers.

There is just one problem here: the GNU GPL does not permit this. It
does not permit using GPL-covered code as part of a non-free program.
If it did, it would fail to be a copyleft, and would not achieve the
benefits of copyleft (see
http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/pragmatic.html).

It looks like Be has made an honest mistake: overlooking the
difference between the GNU GPL and the GNU Library GPL. This way of
using GNU malloc and GNU crypt is permitted, precisely because those
programs are covered by the GNU Library GPL (also called the LGPL).

However, GNU termcap and the Linux 3c509 driver are covered by the GNU
GPL, and Be will have to stop using them as part of proprietary
programs.


Jeffrey C. Dege

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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On Sat, 9 May 1998 19:24:54 -0600, Richard Stallman <r...@santafe.edu> wrote:
>Be Inc. has made an announcement to explain carefully how it follows
>the rules of the GNU GPL:
> [...]

>It looks like Be has made an honest mistake: overlooking the
>difference between the GNU GPL and the GNU Library GPL. This way of
>using GNU malloc and GNU crypt is permitted, precisely because those
>programs are covered by the GNU Library GPL (also called the LGPL).
>
>However, GNU termcap and the Linux 3c509 driver are covered by the GNU
>GPL, and Be will have to stop using them as part of proprietary
>programs.

They won't have to do any such thing unless the actual copyright holder
convinces a court to require them to do so.

--
When a clever man was stupid, he was stupid in a way a man who was
stupid all the time could never hope to match, for the clever man's
stupidity, drawing as it did on so much more knowledge, had a breadth
and depth to it the run-of-the-mill fool found impossible to duplicate.
-- Harry Turtledove

Roger Espel Llima

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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In article <1998051001...@wijiji.santafe.edu>,

Richard Stallman <r...@gnu.org> wrote:
>It looks like Be has made an honest mistake: overlooking the
>difference between the GNU GPL and the GNU Library GPL. This way of
>using GNU malloc and GNU crypt is permitted, precisely because those
>programs are covered by the GNU Library GPL (also called the LGPL).

I said the same to a Be advocate about the Linux 3c509 driver, and he
replied that the driver being loaded as a module with a specified
interface, by the kernel, it does not require the whole kernel to be
GPL'd. Since the Linux kernel itself allows non-GPL code to be inserted
as modules, I suppose this makes sense.

>However, GNU termcap and the Linux 3c509 driver are covered by the GNU
>GPL, and Be will have to stop using them as part of proprietary
>programs.

That leaves GNU termcap as the remaining open problem.

--
Roger Espel Llima, es...@llaic.u-clermont1.fr
http://www.eleves.ens.fr:8080/home/espel/index.html

David Kastrup

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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es...@llaic.u-clermont1.fr (Roger Espel Llima) writes:

> In article <1998051001...@wijiji.santafe.edu>,
> Richard Stallman <r...@gnu.org> wrote:
> >It looks like Be has made an honest mistake: overlooking the
> >difference between the GNU GPL and the GNU Library GPL. This way of
> >using GNU malloc and GNU crypt is permitted, precisely because those
> >programs are covered by the GNU Library GPL (also called the LGPL).
>
> I said the same to a Be advocate about the Linux 3c509 driver, and he
> replied that the driver being loaded as a module with a specified
> interface, by the kernel, it does not require the whole kernel to be
> GPL'd. Since the Linux kernel itself allows non-GPL code to be inserted
> as modules, I suppose this makes sense.

Nope. With Linux we have the kernel being under GPL, not the driver.
The real difference, however, is that the Linux kernel is covered with
a modified version of the GPL allowing for non-GPLed kernel modules.

If, however, we have a generic kernel interface not specific to the
particular driver, loading in kernel modules at run-time, then the
kernel can hardly be called a derived work of the driver. Nor do both
form an inseparable entity that can be licensed only as a whole.

> >However, GNU termcap and the Linux 3c509 driver are covered by the GNU
> >GPL, and Be will have to stop using them as part of proprietary
> >programs.
>
> That leaves GNU termcap as the remaining open problem.

That's what I would think so, too.


--
David Kastrup Phone: +49-234-700-5570
Email: d...@neuroinformatik.ruhr-uni-bochum.de Fax: +49-234-709-4209
Institut für Neuroinformatik, Universitätsstr. 150, 44780 Bochum, Germany

Klaus.S...@home.ivm.de

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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>
> From: es...@llaic.u-clermont1.fr (Roger Espel Llima)
> References:
> <1998051001...@wijiji.santafe.edu>
>In article <1998051001...@wijiji.santafe.edu>,
>Richard Stallman <r...@gnu.org> wrote:
>>However, GNU termcap and the Linux 3c509 driver are covered by the GNU
>>GPL, and Be will have to stop using them as part of proprietary
>>programs.
>
>That leaves GNU termcap as the remaining open problem.
>

Why did the beo$ people choose gnu-termcap in the first place, as there
are different termcap libraries, like att or bsd termcap, or the replacement
that comes with ncurses?

Klaus Schilling

edw...@hairnet.demon.co.uk

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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In article <1998051001...@wijiji.santafe.edu>,
r...@gnu.org wrote:

> However, GNU termcap and the Linux 3c509 driver are covered by the GNU
> GPL, and Be will have to stop using them as part of proprietary
> programs.

Or release Be under GPL

--
Edward Betts http://www.hairent.demon.co.uk/

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Kenneth Miller

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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On 10 May 1998 12:57:05 +0200, David Kastrup wrote:
> es...@llaic.u-clermont1.fr (Roger Espel Llima) writes:

> If, however, we have a generic kernel interface not specific to the
> particular driver, loading in kernel modules at run-time, then the
> kernel can hardly be called a derived work of the driver. Nor do both
> form an inseparable entity that can be licensed only as a whole.

Precisely.

> > >However, GNU termcap and the Linux 3c509 driver are covered by the GNU
> > >GPL, and Be will have to stop using them as part of proprietary
> > >programs.
> >

> > That leaves GNU termcap as the remaining open problem.

> That's what I would think so, too.

Right. Someone at Be I've been talking to claims that source is
available to registered customers and developers (legitimate cd-owners)
upon request. This puts them in compliance if a) this is true and b)
they mention this and give an address in the distribution somewhere.
I'm in freebsd right now and can't comment on part b (though if it's not
mentioned, that's very easy to fix) but have sent mail to be inquiring
about part a. I'll let all of you know what happens.


Jason Stokes

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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In article <1998051001...@wijiji.santafe.edu>, Richard Stallman
<r...@santafe.edu> wrote:

[BeOS illegally incorporates copylefted software in its kernel]

>It looks like Be has made an honest mistake: overlooking the
>difference between the GNU GPL and the GNU Library GPL. This way of
>using GNU malloc and GNU crypt is permitted, precisely because those
>programs are covered by the GNU Library GPL (also called the LGPL).
>

>However, GNU termcap and the Linux 3c509 driver are covered by the GNU
>GPL, and Be will have to stop using them as part of proprietary
>programs.

It seems strange that anyone doing commercial development of an OS,
presumably with advisers and lawyers at hand, would misunderstand the
rather basic requirements of the license, but we should probably
ascribe this to ignorance, not malice, like you said. If this
violation is ignored than it sends a clear message to commercial
software developers that the GNU license doesn't have any teeth; I hope
the licensers involved will pursue this.

--
Jason Stokes: jstok (at) bluedog.apana.org.au (I use a spam block in my
header. Use this address to mail me, replacing (at) with @)

Jason Stokes

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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In article <1998051001...@wijiji.santafe.edu>, Richard Stallman
<r...@santafe.edu> wrote:

[BeOS illegally incorporates copylefted software in its kernel]

>It looks like Be has made an honest mistake: overlooking the
>difference between the GNU GPL and the GNU Library GPL. This way of
>using GNU malloc and GNU crypt is permitted, precisely because those
>programs are covered by the GNU Library GPL (also called the LGPL).
>
>However, GNU termcap and the Linux 3c509 driver are covered by the GNU
>GPL, and Be will have to stop using them as part of proprietary
>programs.

It seems strange that anyone doing commercial development of an OS,
presumably with advisers and lawyers at hand, would misunderstand the

rather basic requirements of the license, but I guess we should
probably ascribe this to ignorance rather than malice.

This could be a real test for copylefted software though; if this
violation skips through than it sends a clear message to commercial


software developers that the GNU license doesn't have any teeth; I

presume the maintainers of the software involved will pursue this?

M Rassbach

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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Jason Stokes wrote:

> In article <1998051001...@wijiji.santafe.edu>, Richard Stallman
> <r...@santafe.edu> wrote:
>
> [BeOS illegally incorporates copylefted software in its kernel]

So, who has the lawyers to write the letter, make the determination of
volation/non violation and time to go after this matter? I don't, and I'd
bet that the original author doesn't either.

If this whole GPL thing is to mean more than handwaving about GPL vs, say
Berkely-style licencing, then someone has to be willing to send out the
lawyers.

> If this
> violation is ignored than it sends a clear message to commercial
> software developers that the GNU license doesn't have any teeth; I hope
> the licensers involved will pursue this.

Exactly.

He who has the best lawyers win. And on that basis, GPL is rather
toothless to begin with.


Andi Kleen

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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M Rassbach <ma...@milestonerdl.com> writes:
>
> > If this
> > violation is ignored than it sends a clear message to commercial
> > software developers that the GNU license doesn't have any teeth; I hope
> > the licensers involved will pursue this.
>
> Exactly.
>
> He who has the best lawyers win. And on that basis, GPL is rather
> toothless to begin with.

I think they would obey simply to avoid a PR desaster.

-Andi

Paul D. Smith

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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%% kemi...@hcs.harvard.edu (Kenneth Miller) writes:

>> > That leaves GNU termcap as the remaining open problem.

>> That's what I would think so, too.

km> Right. Someone at Be I've been talking to claims that source is
km> available to registered customers and developers (legitimate
km> cd-owners) upon request. This puts them in compliance if a) this
km> is true and b) they mention this and give an address in the
km> distribution somewhere.

Only if GNU termcap is completely stand-alone. If it has any libraries
(such as libtermcap) then any non-GPL'd apps linked with those libraries
cannot be distributed.

--
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Paul D. Smith <psm...@baynetworks.com> Network Management Development
"Please remain calm...I may be mad, but I am a professional." --Mad Scientist
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
These are my opinions--Bay Networks takes no responsibility for them.

Paul D. Smith

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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%% M Rassbach <ma...@milestonerdl.com> writes:

mr> So, who has the lawyers to write the letter, make the
mr> determination of volation/non violation and time to go after this
mr> matter? I don't, and I'd bet that the original author doesn't
mr> either.

The FSF has lawyers, and has used them in the past (although they never
had to go all the way to court).

Barry Margolin

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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In article <slrn6lbjdf....@hcs.harvard.edu>,

Kenneth Miller <kemi...@hcs.harvard.edu> wrote:
>Right. Someone at Be I've been talking to claims that source is
>available to registered customers and developers (legitimate cd-owners)
>upon request. This puts them in compliance if a) this is true and b)
>they mention this and give an address in the distribution somewhere.

I don't think so. If they're using this clause:

b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
customarily used for software interchange; or,

then they can't restrict the source code only to registered customers and
developers. The above clause says "any third party".

--
Barry Margolin, bar...@bbnplanet.com
GTE Internetworking, Powered by BBN, Cambridge, MA
*** DON'T SEND TECHNICAL QUESTIONS DIRECTLY TO ME, post them to newsgroups.

Aaron M. Renn

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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M Rassbach wrote:
> If this whole GPL thing is to mean more than handwaving about GPL vs, say
> Berkely-style licencing, then someone has to be willing to send out the
> lawyers.

Yes. That is one reason for assigning copyright to the FSF. That way they
have the legal authority to pursue a copyright infringement claim against
GPL violators - something that an independent developer is unlikely to have
the resources/time/inclination to do.

--
*****************************************************
* Aaron M. Renn *
* Email: ar...@urbanophile.com *
* Homepage: <URL:http://www.urbanophile.com/arenn/> *
*****************************************************

M Rassbach

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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Paul D. Smith wrote:

> The FSF has lawyers, and has used them in the past (although they never
> had to go all the way to court).

And as well they souldn't have to. If you used GPLed code, you are either in
violation or not. And, if GPL code is a hassle for you, then go pick up the same
thing in a Berkely-style...or do a re-write.


Kenneth Miller

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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On 10 May 1998 14:02:41 -0400, Paul D. Smith wrote:
> %% kemi...@hcs.harvard.edu (Kenneth Miller) writes:
>
> >> > That leaves GNU termcap as the remaining open problem.
>
> >> That's what I would think so, too.
>
> km> Right. Someone at Be I've been talking to claims that source is
> km> available to registered customers and developers (legitimate
> km> cd-owners) upon request. This puts them in compliance if a) this
> km> is true and b) they mention this and give an address in the
> km> distribution somewhere.
>
> Only if GNU termcap is completely stand-alone. If it has any libraries
> (such as libtermcap) then any non-GPL'd apps linked with those libraries
> cannot be distributed.

Nono, I mean the source to the programs linked to it. They're already
distributing the termcap source.


Kenneth Miller

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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On Sun, 10 May 1998 18:10:33 GMT, Barry Margolin wrote:
> In article <slrn6lbjdf....@hcs.harvard.edu>,
> Kenneth Miller <kemi...@hcs.harvard.edu> wrote:
> >Right. Someone at Be I've been talking to claims that source is
> >available to registered customers and developers (legitimate cd-owners)
> >upon request. This puts them in compliance if a) this is true and b)
> >they mention this and give an address in the distribution somewhere.
>
> I don't think so. If they're using this clause:
>
> b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
> years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
> cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
> machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
> distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
> customarily used for software interchange; or,
>
> then they can't restrict the source code only to registered customers and
> developers. The above clause says "any third party".

hmm. the individual i talked to seemed under the impression that you
only had to give source copies to those to whom you gave binary copies.
this does seem to contradict that. i will investigate.


Kenneth Miller

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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On 10 May 1998 16:33:34 GMT, Jason Stokes wrote:
> In article <1998051001...@wijiji.santafe.edu>, Richard Stallman
> <r...@santafe.edu> wrote:
>
> [BeOS illegally incorporates copylefted software in its kernel]

There is no GPLed software in the kernel. Period. There is LGPL'ed
code in the kernel, which is legit. There is a wholly GPLed, standalone
driver which communicates with the net_server (userland networking), for
which source has been released. No violation there. The only remaining
issue are three programs, telnet, telnetd, and top which link to the
termcap library, which, oddly enough, is GPLed. They have given out the
source to the termcap lib itself, and the object files necessary to
rebuild the applications, but this is apparently not quite enough.

This has all been said before, but you should know where the violations
are occurring. Just in the interests of clarity.

> It seems strange that anyone doing commercial development of an OS,
> presumably with advisers and lawyers at hand, would misunderstand the

> rather basic requirements of the license, but we should probably

> ascribe this to ignorance, not malice, like you said. If this


> violation is ignored than it sends a clear message to commercial
> software developers that the GNU license doesn't have any teeth; I hope
> the licensers involved will pursue this.

It is a little strange, I agree, but they're a very small company and
the GPL is an oft-misunderstood and misrepresented document, and
confusion abounds. I've been in communication with people at Be about
this, because I want them to succeed, and legal snafus with the very
community of users and developers they hope to attract is a bad way to
do so.

Kragen Javier Sitaker

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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In article <m290oa8...@mailhost.neuroinformatik.ruhr-uni-bochum.de>,

David Kastrup <d...@mailhost.neuroinformatik.ruhr-uni-bochum.de> wrote:
>With Linux we have the kernel being under GPL, not the driver.
>The real difference, however, is that the Linux kernel is covered with
>a modified version of the GPL allowing for non-GPLed kernel modules.

This is not correct, at least for Linux 2.0.30:

kragen@gentle:/usr/src/linux> diff -u /usr/src/linux-2.0.30/COPYING /usr/doc/binutils/COPYING
--- /usr/src/linux-2.0.30/COPYING Wed Dec 1 07:44:15 1993
+++ /usr/doc/binutils/COPYING Wed Aug 12 02:24:51 1992
@@ -1,15 +1,3 @@
-
- NOTE! This copyright does *not* cover user programs that use kernel
- services by normal system calls - this is merely considered normal use
- of the kernel, and does *not* fall under the heading of "derived work".
- Also note that the GPL below is copyrighted by the Free Software
- Foundation, but the instance of code that it refers to (the linux
- kernel) is copyrighted by me and others who actually wrote it.
-
- Linus Torvalds
-
-----------------------------------------
-
GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE
Version 2, June 1991

This diff does not say *anything* about allowing for non-GPL kernel
modules.

Did you post this disinformation through carelessness or malice?
I expect I'll have to argue with people who read your post for at least
five years.

If through carelessness, please be a little more careful about checking
your facts.

The 3c509 driver is supposed to be covered by GPL. I believe that this
is not actually possible in the US, since US government works (the 3c509
driver is from NASA) aren't subject to copyright under US law.

Kragen

Eric Lemar

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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Kenneth Miller (kemi...@hcs.harvard.edu) wrote:
: hmm. the individual i talked to seemed under the impression that you


: only had to give source copies to those to whom you gave binary copies.
: this does seem to contradict that. i will investigate.

:
Which is true, but the people given the binary copies are free by the GPL to
give the binaries to anyone else, and the people given the binaries then have
the right to the source, so unless Be is willing to allow any binaries that
contain GPL'd code to be freely distributed along with the source to these
binaries, they are in violation(not to mention that they are required to
ship the GPL with the product, which as far as I know they haven't done)...

eric

David Schweikert

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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In article <slrn6lc369....@hcs.harvard.edu>, Kenneth Miller wrote:
>On 10 May 1998 16:33:34 GMT, Jason Stokes wrote:
>> In article <1998051001...@wijiji.santafe.edu>, Richard Stallman
>> <r...@santafe.edu> wrote:
>>
>> [BeOS illegally incorporates copylefted software in its kernel]
>
>There is no GPLed software in the kernel. Period. There is LGPL'ed
>code in the kernel, which is legit. There is a wholly GPLed, standalone
>driver which communicates with the net_server (userland networking), for
>which source has been released. No violation there. The only remaining
>issue are three programs, telnet, telnetd, and top which link to the
>termcap library, which, oddly enough, is GPLed. They have given out the
>source to the termcap lib itself, and the object files necessary to
>rebuild the applications, but this is apparently not quite enough.

I think that if Be needs a driver for a network device, it has to write it
alone and not steal it from the Linux kernel.
The userland argument is only marginal as I see it.
It is parhaps legal but immoral.
A legal questions remains though: the userland module is linked against
/boot/develop/lib/x86/glue-noinit.a
is this one published and GPLed?

I am really deceived of Be doing things like that.

David


jo...@dhh.gt.org

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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M Rassbach writes:
> So, who has the lawyers to write the letter, make the determination of
> volation/non violation and time to go after this matter? I don't, and
> I'd bet that the original author doesn't either.

The FSF can and probably will enforce the copyright on the termcap stuff.

The 3c509 driver is more interesting. The "original author" is the US
Government, which is prohibited by law from enforcing its US copyright.
Some "fixes" are attributed to Alan Cox, but as no license terms are
attaced to them, his work must be presumed to be "all rights reserved".
Thus he can sue to prevent Be (or anyone else) from copying his "fixes",
but the GPL would not be involved. Be could buy him off, or get an old
copy without his patches and fix it themselves.

> If this whole GPL thing is to mean more than handwaving about GPL vs, say
> Berkely-style licencing, then someone has to be willing to send out the
> lawyers.

One of the things the FSF is in business for.

> He who has the best lawyers win. And on that basis, GPL is rather
> toothless to begin with.

You have personal knowledge of the competence of the FSF's attorneys?
--
John Hasler This posting is in the public domain.
jo...@dhh.gt.org Do with it what you will.
Dancing Horse Hill Make money from it if you can; I don't mind.
Elmwood, Wisconsin Do not send email advertisements to this address.

Kragen Javier Sitaker

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May 10, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/10/98
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In article <6j59g9$s...@dailyplanet.wam.umd.edu>,

Eric Lemar <ele...@hyperion.dorm.umd.edu> wrote:
>
>Kenneth Miller (kemi...@hcs.harvard.edu) wrote:
>: hmm. the individual i talked to seemed under the impression that you
>: only had to give source copies to those to whom you gave binary copies.
>: this does seem to contradict that. i will investigate.
>:
>Which is true,

No. The situation under discussion is Be distributing binaries and
offering source separately. The GPL permits this, but only with the
requirement that the source be available to *everyone* -- not just those
to whom you gave binary copies -- and essentially at media cost.

The GPL does permit you to give binaries packaged with source to only
those people you want, but Be is not doing that, and...

> but the people given the binary copies are free by the GPL to
>give the binaries to anyone else, and the people given the binaries then have
>the right to the source, so unless Be is willing to allow any binaries that
>contain GPL'd code to be freely distributed along with the source to these
>binaries, they are in violation(not to mention that they are required to
>ship the GPL with the product, which as far as I know they haven't done)...

... yes, they are required to tell people the binaries are under GPL :)

Kragen

r...@greenend.org.uk

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
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kra...@gentle.best.com (Kragen Javier Sitaker) writes:

> The 3c509 driver is supposed to be covered by GPL. I believe that this
> is not actually possible in the US, since US government works (the 3c509
> driver is from NASA) aren't subject to copyright under US law.

According to 3c509.c:-

Copyright 1994-1997 by Donald Becker.
Copyright 1993 United States Government as represented by the
Director, National Security Agency. This software may be used and
distributed according to the terms of the GNU Public License,
incorporated herein by reference.

...so (assuming that Donald Becker has the right to claim copyright!)
it's not just a US Government work.

Matt Brubeck

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
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> However, GNU termcap and the Linux 3c509 driver are covered by the GNU
> GPL, and Be will have to stop using them as part of proprietary
> programs.

As a BeOS developer, let me clear up the technical confusion over BeOS network
drivers.

First, the BeOS uses a (pseudo) microkernel, and networking is not included in
the kernel.
Networking is handled by a user-level program called the net_server. So the BeOS
kernel
definitely doesn't enter into this question; if anything, it would be the
net_server.

NIC drivers in BeOS are compiled as "add-ons" to the net_server. The concept of
an add-on
in BeOS is similar to that of a shared library in some ways; the add-on exports
certain
symbols in the same way that a shared library does. However, instead of
importing the
symbols at link time as with a shared library, programs dynamically load and
unload an add-
ons at run time and use special kernel functions to access their exported
symbols.

What this means in practice: A network driver is a compiled binary which exports
certain
symbols defined by the BeOS API. The user takes this binary file and puts it
into a
specific directory for net_server addons. Whenever the net_server is launched,
it scans
each file in this directory and loads it into memory. An important note is that
the
net_server does not need to be recompiled in order to use new add-ons; it simply
needs to
be killed and re-launched.

So the BeOS 3c509 driver is definitely a stand-alone product in terms of the GNU
GPL; it is
not linked to the kernel or the net_server, nor are the kernel or net_server
linked to the
driver. Under the language of the GPL, the kernel and net_server are clearly not
affected
by the use of the 3c509 code.

As for my perspective on the whole Be/GNU situation...

It's clear that Be violated the GNU GPL and LGPL with the initial release of
BeOS R3.
However, they appear to be honestly apologizing and fixing their mistake. All
they have yet
to do is A) release the code to any programs linked to libtermcap and B) include
notices
about the GPL with the BeOS distribution. A number of GNU people are already
talking to Be
about A and it appears Be will do so. As for B, just watch for the upcoming 3.1
release in
June; I'll bet that the CD will include all of the appropriate notices.

As for various comments about Be "taking from the free software community
without giving
back," I am confused. Be has given back the same thing that all free software
developers
do: their source code. Look at the code to the BeOS 3c509 driver: It will be of
great help
to anyone writing BeOS network card drivers, or porting ethernet drivers to and
from any
platform.

Something else which no one here seems to be aware of: Be has been using GPL'd
software in
BeOS for ages now, and they have always included all of the source code and the
license
itself on the BeOS CD. In the latest release, they managed to miss some of the
code they
needed to include, and so they made it available on their FTP server a few weeks
later.
This hardly seems malicious.

Matt Brubeck

unread,
May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

> However, GNU termcap and the Linux 3c509 driver are covered by the GNU
> GPL, and Be will have to stop using them as part of proprietary
> programs.

As a BeOS developer, let me clear up the technical confusion over
BeOS network drivers.

First, the BeOS uses a (pseudo) microkernel, and networking is
not included in the kernel. Networking is handled by a user-level
program called the net_server. So the BeOS kernel definitely
doesn't enter into this question; if anything, it would be the
net_server.

NIC drivers in BeOS are compiled as "add-ons" to the net_server.
The concept of an add-on in BeOS is similar to that of a shared
library in some ways; the add-on exports certain symbols in the
same way that a shared library does. However, instead of importing

the symbols at link time as with a shared library, programs dy-
namically load and unload an add-ons at run time and use special

Something else which few here seem to be aware of: Be has

David Kastrup

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

dwsc...@stud.ee.ethz.ch (David Schweikert) writes:

> I think that if Be needs a driver for a network device, it has to write it
> alone and not steal it from the Linux kernel.
> The userland argument is only marginal as I see it.
> It is parhaps legal but immoral.

Nonsense. The GPL is written in pretty clear language. Reuse of
software as long asth efull usefulness of the software for its
purpose (source availability of the entire unit in question) is quite
ok. Talking about "stealing" here is idiocy.

If Be uses a GPLed loadable module for the network device, all users
have the advantages they expect from GPLed software: they can get and
modify the source in order to adapt the driver to do what they need
freely.

That this does not hold for the rest of Be does make it any more
desirable not to have at least the network driver GPLed.

M Rassbach

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to


jo...@dhh.gt.org wrote:

> > He who has the best lawyers win. And on that basis, GPL is rather
> > toothless to begin with.
>
> You have personal knowledge of the competence of the FSF's attorneys?

I'm betting that any business that took FSF to court would be able to outspend
them. And, alas, in the US, justice has little to do with facts....justice is
what you can afford. :-( FSF may have the best attorneys on earth, but in my
jaded view, he who has the gold wins.


Kragen Javier Sitaker

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

In article <wwvg1ih...@sfere.greenend.org.uk>,

Mr. Becker has sent me email about this. He says that (1) he is not an
employee of the government, but of a contractor, and (2) the contractor
does not hold a copyright on 3c509.c either, presumably because writing
it was not part of his employment duties.

I apologize for spreading my misapprehensions.

Kragen

Kragen Javier Sitaker

unread,
May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

In article <6j6ado$c...@edrn.newsguy.com>,

Matt Brubeck <sno...@wport.com> wrote:
>> However, GNU termcap and the Linux 3c509 driver are covered by the GNU
>> GPL, and Be will have to stop using them as part of proprietary
>> programs.
>
>NIC drivers in BeOS are compiled as "add-ons" to the net_server.
>The concept of an add-on in BeOS is similar to that of a shared
>library in some ways; the add-on exports certain symbols in the
>same way that a shared library does. However, instead of importing
>the symbols at link time as with a shared library, programs dy-
>namically load and unload an add-ons at run time and use special
>kernel functions to access their exported symbols.

This is exactly the same as using dlopen() and dlsym() on Linux, or
LoadLibrary() and GetProcAddress() on Win32.

>What this means in practice: A network driver is a compiled binary
>which exports certain symbols defined by the BeOS API. The user
>takes this binary file and puts it into a specific directory for
>net_server addons. Whenever the net_server is launched, it scans
>each file in this directory and loads it into memory. An important
>note is that the net_server does not need to be recompiled in
>order to use new add-ons; it simply needs to be killed and re-launched.
>
>So the BeOS 3c509 driver is definitely a stand-alone product in
>terms of the GNU GPL; it is not linked to the kernel or the
>net_server, nor are the kernel or net_server linked to the driver.
>Under the language of the GPL, the kernel and net_server are
>clearly not affected by the use of the 3c509 code.

RMS has said to me that he considers loading a GPLed Netscape plug-in
into non-GPLed Netscape "definitely" a violation of the GPL. Netscape
plug-ins are loaded by Netscape in essentially exactly the same way that
the 3c509 driver is loaded into the net_server. Perhaps this means that
RMS would still, even knowing all the technical details, conclude that
this use of the 3c509 driver was in violation of the GPL.

(This worries me a bit. Where does "mere aggregation" begin, then?
Is it a violation of the GPL to run gcc on Win32, where it must link with
non-GPLed DLLs in order to access Win32 system calls? Is it a violation
of the GPL to run less on MS-DOS, where it calls OS routines in nearly
the same way it calls its own? If not, does it become a violation if
we replace INT 21 hex with mov word ptr [42], AX, followed by setting up
an interrupt stack frame and calling the routine whose address is in AX?)

Donald Becker has said to me, in private email, "Converting one of
my GPLed device drivers to link with a non-GPLed OS is a violation of
my copyright. Do not do it."

However, he apparently has a different interpretation of the GPL than RMS.

Kragen

Jeffrey C. Dege

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

On 11 May 1998 08:59:06 -0400, Kragen Javier Sitaker <kra...@gentle.best.com> wrote:
>In article <6j6ado$c...@edrn.newsguy.com>,

>>
>>So the BeOS 3c509 driver is definitely a stand-alone product in
>>terms of the GNU GPL; it is not linked to the kernel or the
>>net_server, nor are the kernel or net_server linked to the driver.
>>Under the language of the GPL, the kernel and net_server are
>>clearly not affected by the use of the 3c509 code.
>
>RMS has said to me that he considers loading a GPLed Netscape plug-in
>into non-GPLed Netscape "definitely" a violation of the GPL. Netscape
>plug-ins are loaded by Netscape in essentially exactly the same way that
>the 3c509 driver is loaded into the net_server. Perhaps this means that
>RMS would still, even knowing all the technical details, conclude that
>this use of the 3c509 driver was in violation of the GPL.

What RMS believes in this case is relevent only as to whether he decides
to file suit. You may agree with his interpretation of the the GPL,
BE may disagree with is interpretation, and none of it matters squat,
because the only interpretation that is enforcable is that of a judge.

--
Personally, I think my choice in the mostest-superlative-computer wars has to
be the HP-48 series of calculators. They'll run almost anything. And if they
can't, while I'll just plug a Linux box into the serial port and load up the
HP-48 VT-100 emulator.

William C. Cheng

unread,
May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

In article <t4m51.14$1b.8...@cam-news-reader1.bbnplanet.com>,

Barry Margolin <bar...@bbnplanet.com> wrote:
>In article <slrn6lbjdf....@hcs.harvard.edu>,
>Kenneth Miller <kemi...@hcs.harvard.edu> wrote:
>>Right. Someone at Be I've been talking to claims that source is
>>available to registered customers and developers (legitimate cd-owners)
>>upon request. This puts them in compliance if a) this is true and b)
>>they mention this and give an address in the distribution somewhere.
>
>I don't think so. If they're using this clause:
>
> b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
> years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
> cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
> machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
> distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
> customarily used for software interchange; or,
>
>then they can't restrict the source code only to registered customers and
>developers. The above clause says "any third party".

The term ``third party'' is not defined in GPL. Unless there's a legal
definition for it, it is up to the lawyers to define and argue about it.

If there's no legal definition for it, does anyone know if this is
intensionally not defined or if this is a hole that should be plugged
up in GPL?
--
Bill Cheng // bill....@acm.org <URL:http://bourbon.cs.umd.edu:8001/william/>

Paul D. Smith

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

%% M Rassbach <ma...@milestonerdl.com> writes:

mr> I'm betting that any business that took FSF to court would be able
mr> to outspend them. And, alas, in the US, justice has little to do
mr> with facts....justice is what you can afford. :-( FSF may have
mr> the best attorneys on earth, but in my jaded view, he who has the
mr> gold wins.

Sometimes, but not always, to be sure. There are obviously thousands
and thousands of examples where this did not happen.

Besides, there's no surer way to get _serious_ bad press on the 'Net
than pulling a stunt like this: these days, 'Net image _does_ matter to
all but the most entrenched high-tech companies. It would by a Pyhrric
victory at best.

Anyway, the FSF's attorneys (at least some of them) are working pro
bono; there was a post here recently regarding the new Netscape MPL from
a university professor of law (IIRC) who was acting basically in that
capacity.

Kenneth Miller

unread,
May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

On 11 May 1998 08:59:06 -0400, Kragen Javier Sitaker wrote:

> RMS has said to me that he considers loading a GPLed Netscape plug-in
> into non-GPLed Netscape "definitely" a violation of the GPL. Netscape
> plug-ins are loaded by Netscape in essentially exactly the same way that
> the 3c509 driver is loaded into the net_server. Perhaps this means that
> RMS would still, even knowing all the technical details, conclude that
> this use of the 3c509 driver was in violation of the GPL.

This seems, well, silly. Not to mention indefensible. Who, exactly, is
committing the violation in the case of netscape loading a GPLed module?
The GPLed module? That seems pretty odd. Netscape? They didn't put
the module there, the user did. The user? The GPL governs
distribution, not private use. There is nothing at all wrong with
distributing a modified copy of the driver, or the module, with source,
and with the license. Or are you saying that if I, an unoffiliated
developer, using published interfaces, rewrote the program such that it
happens to run as a netscape plug-in, or a be add-on, it would force the
Be kernel into GPL? I can distribute it however I want, and suggest
people do anything they please with it, so long as I include source and
the license. Be (or Netscape) is different because they happen to hold
the copyright to the other end of the interface? Come on.


Kris Van Hees

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

On 10 May at 18:29:50, Aaron M. Renn wrote <3555F21E...@urbanophile.com> which contained:

> M Rassbach wrote:
>> If this whole GPL thing is to mean more than handwaving about GPL vs, say
>> Berkely-style licencing, then someone has to be willing to send out the
>> lawyers.
>
> Yes. That is one reason for assigning copyright to the FSF. That way they
> have the legal authority to pursue a copyright infringement claim against
> GPL violators - something that an independent developer is unlikely to have
> the resources/time/inclination to do.

I wonder how this is possible. I cannot speak for the US much, but at least
in most countries I have checked out, copyright is non-transferable, since it
lies with the author. Licensing is possible to another party, but you cannot
transfer copyright. I believe this is also true in the international copyright
agreements (please correct me if I am wrong).

An author holds the copyright on everything he or she writes, whether it is
explicitly mentioned or not. However, it can be licensed to anyone, and the
license of course can be protected by someone else.

Kris

Timothy Philip Vernum

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

ele...@hyperion.dorm.umd.edu (Eric Lemar) writes:

>(not to mention that they are required to
>ship the GPL with the product, which as far as I know they haven't done)...

It's all in with the source to the shell tools.
/optional/gnu/ on the CD
(or /boot/optional/gnu/ if you installed the optionals)

Not very prominent, but I think you'd have a hard time arguing that the GPL
puts restrictions on that.

>eric

Timothy Philip Vernum

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

kra...@gentle.best.com (Kragen Javier Sitaker) writes:

>In article <6j6ado$c...@edrn.newsguy.com>,

>>NIC drivers in BeOS are compiled as "add-ons" to the net_server.
>>The concept of an add-on in BeOS is similar to that of a shared
>>library in some ways; the add-on exports certain symbols in the
>>same way that a shared library does. However, instead of importing
>>the symbols at link time as with a shared library, programs dy-
>>namically load and unload an add-ons at run time and use special
>>kernel functions to access their exported symbols.

>This is exactly the same as using dlopen() and dlsym() on Linux, or
>LoadLibrary() and GetProcAddress() on Win32.

I don't have access to any Win32 docs ATM, but Add-Ons are technically
different to dl*() on Unix(like) systems.
Essentially it comes down to whether an add-on is a separate app to the
application calling it.
IIRC objects linked with dl*() share symbol tables with the loading
process. Add-ons do not.

For an example:
I was playing with an add-on to the tracker this evening.
I can't guarantee that the net_server add-ons operate in the same way
as the tracker's but I would strongly suspect it.

This particular add-on runs as both a stand-alone app and as an add-on.
It's not just the same source, but the same binary.
I can drop files onto it and have it process them, or I can put it into
the add-ons directory of the tracker and have the tracker load it when
I want to use it.

If this program came under the GPL, then it wouldn't force the Tracker
to become GPL.

Similarly if I decide to convert a linux driver to run on BeOS, then I
am not able to? The GPL goes out of its way to state that their is no
distinction regarding the authorship of separate components.

No matter who writes the code, the licence is the same.

But if I am not legally allowed to convert a linux driver to BeOS then I
would argue that the GPL is a sham, because in that case it doesn't offer
me the freedom that the FSF pushes. The point of making free (open-source)
software is to allow users to use it and modify it for the benefit of all.
If I want to use it under BeOS, then truly open software has to let me, or
it ceases to be "free".

Ultimately it is clear the Be has violated the GPL regarding libtermcap.
All other alleged violations regarding the current release would take some
fairly fierce court battles to prove.

Sean Eddy

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

ae...@fnx.com (Kris Van Hees) writes:
> I wonder how this is possible. I cannot speak for the US much, but at least
> in most countries I have checked out, copyright is non-transferable, since it
> lies with the author. Licensing is possible to another party, but you cannot
> transfer copyright. I believe this is also true in the international copyright
> agreements (please correct me if I am wrong).

IANAL, but I think you're wrong. Certainly in US and UK copyright law,
you can transfer copyright. (Very common in submitting papers to
American or British scientific journals, for example.) I believe US
copyright law is consistent (now) with the Berne Convention and
international law.

--
- Sean Eddy
- Dept. of Genetics, Washington University in St. Louis
- http://www.genetics.wustl.edu/eddy/


Tim Smith

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

Kragen Javier Sitaker <kra...@gentle.dyn.ml.org> wrote:
>RMS has said to me that he considers loading a GPLed Netscape plug-in
>into non-GPLed Netscape "definitely" a violation of the GPL.

1. My reading of copyright law says that the plug-in is not a derivative
work of Navigator, and Navigator is not a derivative work of the
plug-in. I thus fail to see the relevance of GPL in this case.

2. Whom does he see as violating the GPL in the case of a GPL-ed plug
in? Netscape? The author of the plug-in? The author of the web page
that has the content that causes the plug-in to be invoked? The user
who allows Navigator to load the plug-in?

--Tim Smith

jo...@dhh.gt.org

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

Matt Brubeck writes:
> Something else which few here seem to be aware of: Be has been using
> GPL'd software in BeOS for ages now, and they have always included all of
> the source code and the license itself on the BeOS CD. In the latest
> release, they managed to miss some of the code they needed to include,
> and so they made it available on their FTP server a few weeks later. This
> hardly seems malicious.

No it doesn't. From your description, it sounds like honest mistakes.

IMHO, commercial organizations planning to use GPL'd code could avoid many
such errors by asking the FSF for advice. They are under no legal or moral
obligation to do so, but it could save them embarrassment and expense.

Anthony Rossini

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

>>>>> "Kris" == Kris Van Hees <ae...@fnx.com> writes:

Kris> I wonder how this is possible. I cannot speak for the US
Kris> much, but at least in most countries I have checked out,
Kris> copyright is non-transferable, since it lies with the
Kris> author. Licensing is possible to another party, but you
Kris> cannot transfer copyright. I believe this is also true in
Kris> the international copyright agreements (please correct me if
Kris> I am wrong).

Kris> An author holds the copyright on everything he or she
Kris> writes, whether it is explicitly mentioned or not. However,
Kris> it can be licensed to anyone, and the license of course can
Kris> be protected by someone else.

Copyright is transferable -- at least if you want to publish research
papers in (the majority of) academic journals these days.

But I believe you are correct about copyright being present whether it
is explicitly mentioned.

best,
-tony

David Kastrup

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

kra...@gentle.best.com (Kragen Javier Sitaker) writes:

> In article <m290oa8...@mailhost.neuroinformatik.ruhr-uni-bochum.de>,
> David Kastrup <d...@mailhost.neuroinformatik.ruhr-uni-bochum.de> wrote:
> >With Linux we have the kernel being under GPL, not the driver.
> >The real difference, however, is that the Linux kernel is covered with
> >a modified version of the GPL allowing for non-GPLed kernel modules.
>
> This is not correct, at least for Linux 2.0.30:

> This diff does not say *anything* about allowing for non-GPL kernel


> modules.
>
> Did you post this disinformation through carelessness or malice?

Carelessness. I have cancelled the original article by now. I am
afraid that I could have sworn having read this information somewhere
in some other post or so. One should not go around spreading by
hearsay. Sorry for that.

> I expect I'll have to argue with people who read your post for at least
> five years.
>
> If through carelessness, please be a little more careful about checking
> your facts.

I'll try.

BTW, I have now looked through all of the kernel and relevant HOWTOs
in order to find a relevant ruling. Nothing. A kernel module would
be pretty much standalone, but will have to include kernel headers
usually. The kernel headers I have looked at don't have *any*
copyright notice to them. If they were supposed to be GPLed (which
they probably are), it would have been a good idea to place the
standard copyright notice in them, as *very* much suggested by the
GPL. A lot of other files in the kernel don't bear any explicit
notice, either.

Part of the module idea has been that hardware vendors could provide
modules for their relevant hardware, I believe. I am not sure that
the intention was that those would have to be GPLed in any case.

Whatever the intention has been, it is very difficult to read anything
explicit into the rather lax placing of copyright notices. In lack of
other information, one has to assume that the inclusion of the headers
will make your stuff a derived work from GPLed code. But there have
been some court rulings IIRC that mere interfaces are not
copyrightable, and one might claim an honest mistake when confronted
with the lack of exact information in the Linux kernel.

I think it would be probably a good idea to state the intention with
regard to the necessary licensing of kernel modules more explicitly
somewhere.

James Youngman

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

>>>>> "se" == Sean Eddy <ed...@wrasse.wustl.edu> writes:

se> ae...@fnx.com (Kris Van Hees) writes:

>> I wonder how this is possible. I cannot speak for the US much,
>> but at least in most countries I have checked out, copyright is
>> non-transferable, since it lies with the author. Licensing is
>> possible to another party, but you cannot transfer copyright. I
>> believe this is also true in the international copyright
>> agreements (please correct me if I am wrong).

se> IANAL, but I think you're wrong. Certainly in US and UK
se> copyright law, you can transfer copyright. (Very common in
se> submitting papers to American or British scientific journals,
se> for example.) I believe US copyright law is consistent (now)
se> with the Berne Convention and international law.

I'm not quite up to date with this, since the last time I looked into
this was in about 1992, but at that time the situation in the UK was
that there were twelve or so separate copyrights (the "All" in "All
Rights Reserved"). These included the rights of broadcasting, public
performance, copying, and so on. Another of these rights was the
*right to be identified as the author of a work*. IIUC, all
copyrights are transferrable (separately or collectively) *except*
that last one.

So the author can give away or otherwise dispose of all his/her rights
with regard to a work, and can give away the right to so dispose of
all the transferrable rights, but that single right still cannot be
transferred.

Indeed, if you look in the front of some books published in the UK,
you may see words similar to:-


(C) 1832 MegaCorp Publishing Ltd. All Rights Reserved. No part of
this book .... may be reproduced or .... without the prior
written consent of MegaCorp Publishing Ltd.

The moral right of Foo Barbaz to be identifed as the author of this
book has been asserted.

James Youngman

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

>>>>> "dk" == David Kastrup <d...@mailhost.neuroinformatik.ruhr-uni-bochum.de> writes:

[The Linux kernel.....]

dk> Whatever the intention has been, it is very difficult to read
dk> anything explicit into the rather lax placing of copyright
dk> notices. In lack of other information, one has to assume that
dk> the inclusion of the headers will make your stuff a derived work
dk> from GPLed code. But there have been some court rulings IIRC
dk> that mere interfaces are not copyrightable, and one might claim
dk> an honest mistake when confronted with the lack of exact
dk> information in the Linux kernel.

Well, the include files don't just contain interfaces, they also
contain *implementations* of inline functions. For, example the file
linux/include/asm-i386/delay.h includes the inline functions delay()
and udelay().


Greg Stark

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

Anthony Rossini <ros...@stat.sc.edu> writes:

> >>>>> "Kris" == Kris Van Hees <ae...@fnx.com> writes:
>

> Kris> I wonder how this is possible. I cannot speak for the US
> Kris> much, but at least in most countries I have checked out,
> Kris> copyright is non-transferable, since it lies with the
> Kris> author. Licensing is possible to another party, but you
> Kris> cannot transfer copyright. I believe this is also true in
> Kris> the international copyright agreements (please correct me if
> Kris> I am wrong).

I believe in the US and many other countries copyright is completely
transferable. In some European countries I believe authors have
certain untransferable rights but I doubt these will survive the
current round of attempts to strip copyright law from anything that
threatens large media companies.

There are various pages about this, one is at:
http://www.connected.org/rights/wipo.html

> Kris> An author holds the copyright on everything he or she
> Kris> writes, whether it is explicitly mentioned or not. However,
> Kris> it can be licensed to anyone, and the license of course can
> Kris> be protected by someone else.

This is true under the Berne convention, though sometimes employers
and other copyright owners have claims as well.

greg

Jason Stokes

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

In article <6j71po$nip$1...@client2.news.psi.net>, Kris Van Hees
<ae...@fnx.com> wrote:

>I wonder how this is possible. I cannot speak for the US much, but at
>least in most countries I have checked out, copyright is
>non-transferable, since it lies with the author.

Copyright not transferrable!!! You must be joking!

--
Jason Stokes: jstok (at) bluedog.apana.org.au (I use a spam block in my
header. Use this address to mail me, replacing (at) with @)

Per Abrahamsen

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
to

Sean Eddy <ed...@wrasse.wustl.edu> writes:

> ae...@fnx.com (Kris Van Hees) writes:

> > I wonder how this is possible.
> > I cannot speak for the US much, but at least in most countries I
> > have checked out, copyright is non-transferable, since it lies

> > with the author. Licensing is possible to another party, but you
> > cannot transfer copyright. I believe this is also true in the
> > international copyright agreements (please correct me if I am
> > wrong).
>
> IANAL, but I think you're wrong. Certainly in US and UK copyright law,
> you can transfer copyright.

Danish law has no such thing as "Copyright". Instead it has "Creators
Right". This is non-transferable, but you can license your work for
specifiers perpuses. I.e. if you write a book, you can give a
publisher the exclusive right to publish it in book form. But if
someone wants to use it in a movie, he will have to contact the
author.

Of course, you can write the contract that gives the publisher the
exclusive rights for the book, movie, radio and TV version. But the
contract have to be specific, it you make the statements too broad (I
sign over *all* uses), the contract will not be legally binding.

I believe this is the situation on most of continental Europe.

robert havoc pennington

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
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jd...@jdege.visi.com (Jeffrey C. Dege) writes:
>
> What RMS believes in this case is relevent only as to whether he decides
> to file suit. You may agree with his interpretation of the the GPL,
> BE may disagree with is interpretation, and none of it matters squat,
> because the only interpretation that is enforcable is that of a judge.
>

Except that Be is a young company without a lot of money to throw
around, and wouldn't want to risk the PR, so they're likely to just
give in if RMS threatens to sue. They aren't going to do the "Oh yeah,
make me" thing.

Havoc Pennington ==== http://pobox.com/~hp

Klaus.S...@home.ivm.de

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
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>
> Re: How not to follow the GNU GPL
>
> From: kemi...@hcs.harvard.edu (Kenneth Miller)
> Reply to: Kenneth Miller
> Date: 10 May 1998 20:14:08 GMT
> Organization: the 24-hour church of elvis
> Newsgroups:
> gnu.misc.discuss
> Followup to: newsgroup(s)
> References:
> <1998051001...@wijiji.santafe.edu>
> <6j3qce$k8c$1...@alpha.sky.net>
> <m290oa8...@mailhost.neuroinformatik.ruhr-uni-bochum.de>
> <slrn6lbjdf....@hcs.harvard.edu>
> <t4m51.14$1b.8...@cam-news-reader1.bbnplanet.com>

>On Sun, 10 May 1998 18:10:33 GMT, Barry Margolin wrote:
>> In article <slrn6lbjdf....@hcs.harvard.edu>,
>> Kenneth Miller <kemi...@hcs.harvard.edu> wrote:
>> >Right. Someone at Be I've been talking to claims that source is
>> >available to registered customers and developers (legitimate cd-owners)
>> >upon request. This puts them in compliance if a) this is true and b)
>> >they mention this and give an address in the distribution somewhere.
>>
>> I don't think so. If they're using this clause:
>>
>> b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
>> years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
>> cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
>> machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
>> distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
>> customarily used for software interchange; or,
>>
>> then they can't restrict the source code only to registered customers and
>> developers. The above clause says "any third party".
>
>hmm. the individual i talked to seemed under the impression that you
>only had to give source copies to those to whom you gave binary copies.
>this does seem to contradict that. i will investigate.

I bet Be will do that under a nondisclosure agreement, which is downright immoral .

Klaus Schilling

Kris Van Hees

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
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On 11 May at 14:26:00, Kris Van Hees wrote <6j71po$nip$1...@client2.news.psi.net> which contained:
< About transfering copyright to e.g. the FSF... >

> I wonder how this is possible. I cannot speak for the US much, but at least
> in most countries I have checked out, copyright is non-transferable, since it
> lies with the author. Licensing is possible to another party, but you cannot
> transfer copyright. I believe this is also true in the international copyright
> agreements (please correct me if I am wrong).
>

> An author holds the copyright on everything he or she writes, whether it is
> explicitly mentioned or not. However, it can be licensed to anyone, and the
> license of course can be protected by someone else.

I made a mistake here (which obviously has been noticed by several people).
What I named Copyright (for what I know it as in flemish) actual has several
aspects in its english meaning, apparantly. One of these is (as James Youngman
and Per Abrahamsen point out) the right to be identified as the author of the
work. Licensing is of course something which covers rights such as the use and
distribution (if any) of the work.

US law may work differently, but I know that at least in many european countries
I could write code as employee, and though my employer would have all rights
on the code, I would legally be the author, and anyone (including the employer)
who would claim to be the author would be in violation of my right.

My apologies for the confusing statement I made in my previous posting.

Kris

Leslie Mikesell

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
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In article <6j6smq$k...@gentle.best.com>,

Kragen Javier Sitaker <kra...@gentle.dyn.ml.org> wrote:
>
>(This worries me a bit. Where does "mere aggregation" begin, then?
>Is it a violation of the GPL to run gcc on Win32, where it must link with
>non-GPLed DLLs in order to access Win32 system calls?

There is an exception for the standard system libraries, but if you
have installed any enhancements or third party software that replaced
the stock DLLS it would be a violation.

>Is it a violation
>of the GPL to run less on MS-DOS, where it calls OS routines in nearly
>the same way it calls its own? If not, does it become a violation if
>we replace INT 21 hex with mov word ptr [42], AX, followed by setting up
>an interrupt stack frame and calling the routine whose address is in AX?)

Depends on what you hit. If you have installed non-standard drivers
(aspi, network, etc.) then it's not the stock operating system. At
one point it was considered a violation to use any libraries under
dos since there wasn't a stock compiler to supply them. Now I think
since you have to buy some compiler the libs that come with it are
considered OK.

Les Mikesell
l...@mcs.com

Matt Brubeck

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
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Kragen Javier Sitaker <kra...@gentle.dyn.ml.org> wrote:

>RMS has said to me that he considers loading a GPLed Netscape plug-in
>into non-GPLed Netscape "definitely" a violation of the GPL.

I hope that RMS does not seriously believe that, as I was under the
impression that he is familiar with the GNU General Public License
and its terms. If he does believe it, he is wrong, and should read
the GPL again.

The only way that releasing a Netscape Navigator plugin (or BeOS
network driver, for that matter) under GPL would violate the terms
of the license is if Navigator (or the BeOS net_server) was then
considered a derivative work based on the plugin, under Section 2
of the GPL.

Navigator is very clearly not derived in any way from the hypo-
thetical GPL'ed plugin. The authors of Navigator did not use any
code from the plugin; in fact, the plugin may not even have exis-
ted when Navigator was written, compiled, and distributed. There
is no way that the authors of Navigator (or the net_server) have
violated the GPL, because they have not incorporated any GPL code
into their products. There is no way a court, or any person, would
accuse them of doing so.

As for the authors of the plugins, they have not violated the GPL
either. The GPL does not forbid distributed code which can be
loaded and executed by other, non-GPL, programs. As long as the
author of the plugin releases the full source code to their plugin
and includes the appropriate licensing notices, no violation has
been made. No one can accuse them either of violating GPL. If you
doubt me, read the license yourself. If you disagree, please cite
which clause of the GPL has been violated.

The only other reasoning I can imagine is that the copy of Navigator
loaded into memory on a user's computer becomes a derived work of
the plugin when it loads the plugin into its memory space. In this
case, it is the user who has violated GPL by creating a new work
not released under GNU GPL but based on GPL code.

Of course, this would require that the copy of an executable re-
siding in memory be considered an original work, and that causing
a computer to load a program into its memory constitutes authorship
of this "work." Based on the information I have on US and inter-
national copyright law (as well as common sense), this is not a
legally acceptable argument.

If neither Netscape or BeOS, the plugin author, or the user has
violated the GPL, then who has? No one.

Should it be illegal to run gzip on a Macintosh because it causes
GPL code to be loaded by a non-GPL program? Don't laugh; this is
more relevant than you might think. What happens when an operating
system launches an executable is exactly the same as when Navigator
or the net_server loads a plugin. It loads the binary into memory,
scans for certain exported symbols (in this case, usually the __start
symbol exported by a main function), and executes code contained in
the binary. If it is illegal for Navigator to load GPL code, the
same should be true for running a GPL program on any operating system
not distributed under GNU GPL (that is, pretty much every operating
sytem but Linux).

Of course, the GNU GPL could be modified to forbid GPL code from
being loaded into memory and executed by a non-GPL program (though
I don't see why this would be desirable). However, the current
version of the GPL contains nothing of the sort. If you believe
that it does, please quote to me the relevant parts of the license.

As for Be: As I have said before, they are currently in violation
of the General Public License. However, they appear to be taking
all steps necessary to rectify that. I expect that the next release
will fully conform to GPL. If not, then we have reason to get angry.

Michael Kagalenko

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
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(jo...@dhh.gt.org) wrote in article <877m3sj...@hasler.dhh>
]Matt Brubeck writes:
]> Something else which few here seem to be aware of: Be has been using
]> GPL'd software in BeOS for ages now, and they have always included all of
]> the source code and the license itself on the BeOS CD. In the latest
]> release, they managed to miss some of the code they needed to include,
]> and so they made it available on their FTP server a few weeks later. This
]> hardly seems malicious.
]
]No it doesn't. From your description, it sounds like honest mistakes.
]
]IMHO, commercial organizations planning to use GPL'd code could avoid many
]such errors by asking the FSF for advice. They are under no legal or moral
]obligation to do so, but it could save them embarrassment and expense.

Even better idea is to avoid GPL code with all associated legal
aggravations, and use BSD stuff.

jo...@dhh.gt.org

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
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Jeffrey C. Dege writes:
> What RMS believes in this case [the 3c509 driver] is relevent only as to

> whether he decides to file suit.

He can't sue. He doesn't own any of the code involved. It appears, from
the copyright notice in the source and what has been posted here, that only
Mr. Becker and possibly Mr. Cox have standing (The US Government could
theoretically sue outside the US).

Paul D. Smith

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
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%% jd...@jdege.visi.com (Jeffrey C. Dege) writes:

jcd> Well, I generally approve of amicable resolution of problems of
jcd> this sort. But part of me would like to see a precedent on the
jcd> enforcability of the GPL established.

I'm sure that even if there was a ruling, it would be strictly targeted
and probably wouldn't do much more than give us all something new to
argue about :)

Which, I suppose, would still be a very good thing *sigh*.

Steve Peltz

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
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In article <m2emy0n...@mailhost.neuroinformatik.ruhr-uni-bochum.de>,

David Kastrup <d...@mailhost.neuroinformatik.ruhr-uni-bochum.de> wrote:
>Part of the module idea has been that hardware vendors could provide
>modules for their relevant hardware, I believe. I am not sure that
>the intention was that those would have to be GPLed in any case.

If the intention is to allow proprietary modules to be loaded into the
kernel, and that a GPL-ed module can also be loaded into that same kernel,
the conclusion would seem to be that a GPL-ed module (whether written
to the Linux interface or some other interface) would be allowed to be
loaded by a totally non-GPLed kernel.

With regard to libtermcap, if the only programs that are linked with
libtermcap are distributed under the GPL themselves, I'd think that
would be satisfactory. I don't think any of the system itself needs it,
just the various terminal-mode programs such as Bash, and as far as
I know, the source for all of those, as modified to run under BeOS,
is available. Since those tools are distributed and installed at the
same time as the kernel, the clause allowing "anything that is normally
distributed with the major components" "unless that component itself
accompanies the executable" may be a problem; not sure how that interacts
with the "mere aggregation" clause, as those tools are not vital parts
of the system interface.

Aaron M. Renn

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May 11, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/11/98
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Per Abrahamsen wrote:
> Danish law has no such thing as "Copyright". Instead it has "Creators
> Right". This is non-transferable, but you can license your work for
> specifiers perpuses. I.e. if you write a book, you can give a
> publisher the exclusive right to publish it in book form. But if
> someone wants to use it in a movie, he will have to contact the
> author.

Well, this is how it usually works in the US as well. The original author
maintains the copyright and sells the publishing rights to a publisher. All
other rights (unless stated otherwise in the contract) remain with the
author. If you look at the front of most books (at least in the US) you will
see that the copyright statement has the author's name, not the publisher's
name. In negotiating these type of arrangements, it helps to have an agent
and/or lawyer on your side.

US law rejects the notion of "natural rights" for authors. Indeed the US
law (contrary to what most large media and software companies would have you
believe) explicitly states that copyright is to promote progress in the arts
and to benefit the public - not to protect any rights of authors or to help
them get rich. European countries have a somewhat different view and many
of their laws do recognize some "natural rights", though I am unclear on
exactly what. As a result of this US legal doctrine, copyright is fully
transferrable here. Your mileage may vary in other countries, but I believe
most of them do allow copyright transferal, though the author may retain
some rights over the work.

--
*****************************************************
* Aaron M. Renn *
* Email: ar...@urbanophile.com *
* Homepage: <URL:http://www.urbanophile.com/arenn/> *
*****************************************************

Jeffrey C. Dege

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May 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/12/98
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On Mon, 11 May 1998 18:06:06 GMT, robert havoc pennington <h...@pobox.com> wrote:
>jd...@jdege.visi.com (Jeffrey C. Dege) writes:
>>
>> What RMS believes in this case is relevent only as to whether he decides
>> to file suit. You may agree with his interpretation of the the GPL,
>> BE may disagree with is interpretation, and none of it matters squat,
>> because the only interpretation that is enforcable is that of a judge.
>>
>
>Except that Be is a young company without a lot of money to throw
>around, and wouldn't want to risk the PR, so they're likely to just
>give in if RMS threatens to sue. They aren't going to do the "Oh yeah,
>make me" thing.

Well, I generally approve of amicable resolution of problems of this sort.
But part of me would like to see a precedent on the enforcability of
the GPL established.

--
For every problem there is one solution which is simple, neat, and wrong.
-- H. L. Mencken

Paul D. Smith

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May 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/12/98
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%% Matt Brubeck <sno...@wport.com> writes:

mb> I hope that RMS does not seriously believe that, as I was under the
mb> impression that he is familiar with the GNU General Public License
mb> and its terms. If he does believe it, he is wrong, and should read
mb> the GPL again.

Hmm. Where did you get _your_ law degree?

RMS has competent lawyers at his disposal and utilized them to create
the GPL so that it says what he wanted it to; I'd trust his
interpretation of the license over yours... but I'd get a real legal
opinion before basing any decisions on either.

mb> The only way that releasing a Netscape Navigator plugin (or BeOS
mb> network driver, for that matter) under GPL would violate the terms
mb> of the license is if Navigator (or the BeOS net_server) was then
mb> considered a derivative work based on the plugin, under Section 2
mb> of the GPL.

mb> Navigator is very clearly not derived in any way from the hypo-
mb> thetical GPL'ed plugin. The authors of Navigator did not use any
mb> code from the plugin; in fact, the plugin may not even have exis-
mb> ted when Navigator was written, compiled, and distributed. There
mb> is no way that the authors of Navigator (or the net_server) have
mb> violated the GPL, because they have not incorporated any GPL code
mb> into their products. There is no way a court, or any person, would
mb> accuse them of doing so.

Obviously not, but that's not the issue. The issue isn't with Netscape,
it's with the people who distributed GPL'd code--the plugin authors.

If someone incorporated the RogueWave libraries with GPL'd code, would
RogueWave be liable? Obviously not: the problem is with those who tried
to combine incompatible licensing terms.

mb> As for the authors of the plugins, they have not violated the GPL
mb> either. The GPL does not forbid distributed code which can be
mb> loaded and executed by other, non-GPL, programs. As long as the
mb> author of the plugin releases the full source code to their plugin
mb> and includes the appropriate licensing notices, no violation has
mb> been made. No one can accuse them either of violating GPL. If you
mb> doubt me, read the license yourself. If you disagree, please cite
mb> which clause of the GPL has been violated.

You haven't at all shown that the plugin isn't considered a derived
work. This is a legal term, not a "logical" one. The legal definition
may have no relationship to what _you_ "logically" think it should
mean.

IANAL, either, and furthermore I'm not familiar with Netscape's plugin
technology, but to me the most salient question is: can the plugin be
invoked and will it perform useful functions without Netscape?

If you can't run the plugin and use it without Netscape present, then
there's a good case to be made, IMO, that the plugin _is_ in fact a
derived work, in the sense that the GPL means. In this case, the plugin
is simply yet another version of the "user does the link" dodge, which
the FSF and RMS have repeatedly stated _does_ constitute a violation of
the GPL.

If you can run it, usefully, standalone, then I would think it's almost
certainly not a derived work.

mb> Should it be illegal to run gzip on a Macintosh because it causes
mb> GPL code to be loaded by a non-GPL program? Don't laugh; this is
mb> more relevant than you might think. What happens when an operating
mb> system launches an executable is exactly the same as when Navigator
mb> or the net_server loads a plugin. It loads the binary into memory,
mb> scans for certain exported symbols (in this case, usually the __start
mb> symbol exported by a main function), and executes code contained in
mb> the binary. If it is illegal for Navigator to load GPL code, the
mb> same should be true for running a GPL program on any operating system
mb> not distributed under GNU GPL (that is, pretty much every operating
mb> sytem but Linux).

Please re-read the GPL more carefully, yourself. There is an explicit
exception made in the GPL for all system components. The Macintosh
loader is a system component. Netscape is not a system component.

David Kastrup

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May 12, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/12/98