A question about distributing software under GPL
kmself at ix.netcom.com
kmself at ix.netcom.com
Tue Jan 16 05:50:15 UTC 2001
on Tue, Jan 16, 2001 at 12:11:56AM -0500, Chris F Clark (cfc at world.std.com) wrote:
> If we have some software (a library) that we wish to distibute under
> the GPL, but that software supports an application (specifically an
> application generator) that is not distributed under the GPL and is
> not open source,
> can we distribute the library under the GPL,
Oblig: IANAL, this is not legal advice.
As a general rule, my argument would be "yes". *If* you are the sole
author and/or copyrightholder in the work, *or* if you have secured
permission from (all) copyrightholder(s) to do so.
> and more importantly
> can we distribute it (and permits others to do so) with the
> non-open source program, since their interoperability is more than
> mere aggregation?
Again, as a general rule, yes. Subject to the caveats above.
The short explanation:
The GNU GPL (as with most free software licenses) grants rights to
_non authors_ (or copyrightholders) of a work _which they wouldn't
have, independently of the license_.
You, as author, have these rights. It's not necessary to grant them
to yourself (though, as I say in my standard spiel on this topic,
you can have your people talk to your people, do lunch with
yourself, and see if you can't do business together).
> Relevant facts (as I percieve them):
> The software to be released under the GPL is not currently open source
> (and has not been derived from any open (or closed) source
> materials)--i.e. the group wishing to distribute the software is the
> author of the software in all senses of the word and it is theirs to
> distribute under any licenses they see fit.
If this representation is true, you should be OK.
> Still, the real question is can the author of software release it
> under the GPL and yet distribute it with non-GPL software when the
> (interoperability) bonding appears to be tighter than aggregation?
Generally, yes. See above.
> Note that we cannot be compelled to release the application under the
> GPL (or any other license) as it does not currently contain any GPL
> (or otherwised licensed) components.
Regarding compulsion under the GPL. My understanding is that you may
find yourself, as a result of certain actions and/or inactions, in
noncompliance of the GPL. However, you cannot be compelled (short a
directive from some legal authority) to release anything against your
will. You may *choose* to release code to come into compliance. As
I've said here before, compliance with and release of code under the
GPL are two separate issues.
> Further, I presume that if we can release our library under the GPL
> with the related application generator (not under the GPL), this will
> not produce a hole in the GPL, since the only reason we want to claim
> that we can do so is that we have a non-GPL copy of the library code
> we used in the generator.
This is how I'd argue it.
> If we had used any GPL (or otherwise licensed) code in our program,
> then we would have had to abide by that license (and in the case of
> the GPL release a source copy of our generator under the GPL (or not
> release it at all)).
Yes. Glad you got to this, because this is a limitation of acting in
the way you describe. While you can claim bragging rights to a piece of
LGPLd software, you are essentially becoming what I call a "code
exporter" -- you have granted your code to the free software community,
but your rules of operation provide you very limited benefits from doing
> On a related point, if we cannot distribute our non-open source
> application with a GPL copy of our library, how could anyone release a
> CD with a non-open source Linux application and a copy of Linux (since
> the application is not useful without Linux, of which some parts must
> be GPL)?
See the OS exemptions to the GPL.
> For those of you are interested why we might do this, we are
> attempting to follow the lead of L. Peter Deutsch and release old
> copies of our software under more liberal (and more open source)
> licenses. We expect no return for this release--we are doing it
> simply so we can easily give our software away (for example to
> universities)--in the hopes that by giving it away someone might do
> something useful with it that they couldn't (or wouldn't) have done
> without it.
> Finally, if we can distribute the software as we desire, how should we
> describe it?
An unpretentious application, with fruity overtones....
Call it what it is and state that the libraries are *also* available,
separately, as an LGPL'd package, but not the combined work as a whole.
Karsten M. Self <kmself at ix.netcom.com> http://kmself.home.netcom.com/
What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand? There is no K5 cabal
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