How To Break The GPL

David Johnson arandir at
Sun Mar 5 06:27:16 UTC 2000

On Sat, 04 Mar 2000, Jonathan Marks wrote:

> > I would agree with everything expect for the "added to" part. In code terms, it
> > may very well be derivitive, but it hardly demands an identical copyright or
> > license. As an example, neither the GTK nor the Qt libraries require that
> > additional widgets be handed over to GNU or TrollTech, or even use their
> > licenses.  It is only in the area of GPL libraries that there exists a problem.
> > 
> Added to:  presented me with much thought too.  In the widget example, could 
> there be a distinction between adding frills to existing widgets, and adding 
> new widgets.  Also please consider the following.  

The only way I could add frills to a widget would be to actually modify the
widget code. I could, of course, subclass the widget, but then it is a new
widget, and not much different from writing a new one altogether. If the code
were actually modified, then it would certainly be an instance of copyright

For example, to write a brand new button widget that had round corners instead
of square, I could write a whole new button class, which would ordinarily be
derived from a generic widget class. Or I could subclass the existing button
widget and override the drawing methods. I am doing the same thing in both
cases, deriving (in an OO sense) from existing classes and adding new classes.
I have added frills by adding a new widget. But whether or not my classes or
derivations in the sense of copyright is another matter.

> I would like to draw attention away from "Derived from" and move it to
> "Direct  Functionality".  Make sense?

But what does "direct functionality" mean in terms of licensing? I can see
functionality being added to a GPL application in ways that both would and
would not violate the GPL. If I wrote a new plugin for Gimp, it would add
functionality, but would only have runtime linkage. But putting the exact some
code within the body of the Gimp source code cause it to come under the purview
of the GPL.

David Johnson...

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