an interesting reversal

Russell Nelson nelson at
Tue Sep 25 14:17:44 UTC 2001

I believe that the people to whom this is directed are familiar with
the idea of escaping the GPL by handing over a mix of object files,
some proprietary and some GPL, and requiring the user to do the link.

In case you aren't, here it is: Since the GPL is a license to copy,
not a contract for use (so says the FSF), it only applies to copying.
To redistribution.  So if the user creates the proprietary executable,
they're not redistributing and so the derived work, although
proprietary, does not violate the GPL.  That's just background, that's
just theory, I'm not recommending anyone do this.

Now, over on, we're talking about the 127K (thereabouts)
of licenses which the Familiar distribution installs in
/usr/share/doc.  On a machine with only 16M of permanent storage,
every K is important.  So we're talking about having the package
manager NOT install the copyright.  The package will have the
copyright, but the package manager won't write it to flash.  Users are
allowed to do this since they (by definition) are using the software
not redistributing it.

However, this doesn't work for a manufacturer who (theoretically
anyway) pre-installs Familiar on a PDA.  They are redistributing the
software, so they must include the copyright.

In an odd symmetry to 'user does the link to violate the GPL', we have
'user does the delete to comply with the GPL'.


In order to avoid an extended discussion of this across multiple
mailing lists (which nearly always sucks -- take it to your own
mailing list or join the others), I have used this BCC header:
BCC: osi at, license-discuss at,
	fsb at, rms at, familiar at

-russ nelson <sig at>
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