Static v. Dynamic Linking -- redux

Ian Lance Taylor ian at
Sun Mar 17 01:17:19 UTC 2002

Emiliano <emile at> writes:

> Russell Nelson wrote:
> >  > I am totally uneducated in the matters of license legalities, but is it
> >  > actually illegal to circumvent a license? If the wording of the license
> >  > allows a particular use, will the court read the letter of the license
> >  > or the spirit of the license?
> >
> > In my admittedly limited experience, it's a bad idea for the plaintiff
> > to give the the judge the impression that the plaintiff thinks the
> > judge won't see through his scheme.  Judges have a lot of discretion
> > when it comes to contempt of court.
> I don't think it'd be a good approach (legally or morally), but isn't
> the licensee bound by the text of the license, and nothing else?

The law is not a computer program, in which only the text matters.
It's a good thing too, considering how ambiguous natural languages
are.  While obviously the actual text is very important, the intent of
the author can be used to clarify the meaning of the license.

Note too that the GPL doesn't say anything about whether code is
linked together.  It refers only to derivative works.  The GPL does
not define derivative works, presumably intending that it be defined
by copyright law.  Copyright law has not yet caught up with the ideas
of computer programming.

license-discuss archive is at

More information about the License-discuss mailing list