What is Copyleft?

David Johnson david at usermode.org
Sat Feb 24 03:11:33 UTC 2001

On Friday 23 February 2001 08:32 am, Dave  J Woolley wrote:

> 	[DJW:]  In the normal course of programming the host
> 	program will be combined with the header files (or typelib)
> 	from the libary to produce the object code and the further
> 	reference will be made to the library in producing the
> 	final, executable.  You would need clean room development
> 	to avoid this.

It would depend upon the specific header file. Although they are read in by 
the compiler, they do not always get translated into any bits. 

A header that is pure API (only function declarations) are in this class. The 
names of the functions get copied over into the resulting object file, but 
the header file itself does not. I believe that there was a case once that 
ruled you couldn't copyright an API.

Header files that contain macros, inlines or templates would be a different 
matter. I think that even these things would be usable under fair use, since 
their intent is to support the interface. 

> One other point is that the argument is about whether the 
> letter of the GPL allows something rather than whether the
> spirit does.

Sometimes the "spirit" of one part of a license is in conflict with the 
"spirit" of another. In the case of the GPL, I feel that the spirit of "we 
won't restrict usage" could be in direct conflict with the spirit of "don't 
combine this in any way with 'foreign' stuff".

And of course, the whole general spirit of "only use this particular license 
if you value freedom" is irrelevant.

David Johnson

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