GPL and LGPL question

Wilfredo Sanchez wsanchez at
Wed May 19 01:25:20 UTC 1999

| I'm rather concerned that one can get around the GPL "linking"  
| by using CORBA. I've discussed this with RMS, but we didn't really  
come to
| any conclusion.

  There are no "linking" provisions in the GPL, or anything or the  
sort.  That was my point.

  There is a brief mention of "linking" in the bottom of the COPYING  
file (which I belive isn't actually part of the license) in the  
"maybe you want LGPL" paragraph, but that's it.

  So this linking business is RMS's interpretation, but is not in  
the license text.  I know certain other licenses get heavily  
critiqued for being vague, but I don't see the same scrutiny applied  
to the GPL here.  The lack of clarity here is the biggest reason I  
know of why some companies prefer to avoid dealing with the GPL at  
all costs, even when they are open to the idea of open source in  
general.  If you have some proprietary code which may ship alongside  
GPL'ed code, you may accidentally fall into the "derived work"  
category.  Certainly, it is reasonable to be wary of this.

  I realize that this is intentional; after all, proprietary code is  
inherently evil in the eyes of the GPL's authors.  But I would argue  
that this hardly represents freedom.  Protecting one's right to  
share code by removing one's right not to doesn't seem like a Good  
Thing to me.  But I guess this it the nature of the BSD license vs.  
GNU license debate, and this isn't a new issue.

  It bothers me that people speak of the GPL's (supposed) intent as  
if the document actually says so.  I worry that people assume that  
the GPL does the right thing for them here, without actually having  
read it carefully.

  In any case, it would be best for the GPL to define "derived", so  
we know what exactly one is agreeing to when using the GPL.


       Wilfredo Sanchez, wsanchez at
Apple Computer, Inc., Core Operating Systems / BSD
          Technical Lead, Darwin Project
   1 Infinite Loop, 302-4K, Cupertino, CA 95014

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