What is Copyleft?

Ken Arromdee arromdee at rahul.net
Fri Feb 23 16:34:14 UTC 2001

On Fri, 23 Feb 2001, Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M. wrote:
> Interesting point. In the ordinary course of programming, I suspect there
> would be no derivative work created, hence the GPL should provide no
> obstacle for distributing the program as open source. As you mentioned,
> there could be a counter-example such as the development of a text editor
> for Windows that not only makes calls to print drivers that MS has thrown in
> its OS, but also to DLLs written by printer manufacturers. Add to that fact
> that the windows text editor reads into those drivers additional True Type
> fonts (independently copyrightable) and you my have a genuine derivative
> work question.

Something similar first turned up long ago when GNU software first was
ported to PCs.  Even regular compilers link programs to libraries that come
with the compiler, and there was concern that the GPL did not allow this since
those libraries didn't come with the OS, but with the compiler.

The "solution" was for RMS to state that standard compiler libraries count
as operating system components even if they don't really come with the
operating system.  I still find this unconvincing; but I would expect that a
similar rationalization would work with printer drivers.

(One of the biggest reasons this is unconvincing is that it doesn't bind
anyone else.  RMS can only redefine OS components on GPL software that is
his, not on GPL software from other people.)

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