How To Break The GPL

Justin Wells jread at
Fri Mar 3 19:00:34 UTC 2000

RMS may be correct in this case. I am not a lawyer. The counter-argument
that MSFT could ban people from making Windows software doesn't fly. 

They CAN ban you from creating derivitive works based on their copyrighted
material, they have every right to do that. By encouraging people to 
create these derivatives they have effectively granted permission to
do so (implicitly, even if their license doesn't make it explicit).

It's similar to the implicity right you have to make copies of an HTML
file in the course of loading it into your browser, saving it on disk,
and other ordinary things that would happen when you typed in the URL
of some copyrighted material. By putting it on a website the copyright
owner is implicitly giving you the right to do that, even if it says
"All rights reserved" somewhere on the page.

MSFT would NOT be able to say "everyone but Netscape and Corel" in 
their license, even without anti-trust laws they would get into legal 
hotwater for that one. It's simply anti-competitive, illegal 
discrimination. You can only discriminate on the basis of things
like "people who paid" or "people who also bought Windows", etc.,
and any company or person has the right to be one of those people
if they fit the criteria (by having paid, or bought windows, or

That's my understanding, but again, I am not a lawyer.


On Fri, Mar 03, 2000 at 09:44:20AM -0800, Ken Arromdee wrote:
> Of course this position has some other unpleasant consequences too; for
> instance, a program designed only to run with Microsoft Windows DLLs is
> a derivative work of Windows, which means that Microsoft can deny you the
> legal right to write Windows programs.  I wrote to RMS asking him about just
> this scenario, and his reply was basically that this is correct, but that it
> is not in the interests of the makers of proprietary operating systems to do
> that.  (I didn't buy that--it wouldn't be in Microsoft's interest to ban *all*
> Windows software, but it would be in their interest to ban, say, Word Perfect
> or Netscape.)

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