distributing GPL libreries

Scott Shattuck scott.shattuck at gmail.com
Tue Jul 15 14:27:37 UTC 2008

On Jul 15, 2008, at 12:53 AM, David Woolley wrote:

> Lawrence Rosen wrote:
>> [LR:] Why should anyone want to discourage linking with non-GPL  
>> code? What
>> does FSF's preference have to do with anything?
> For a start the FSF's preference is relevant because they are an  
> example of someone who wants to discourage the use of their code in  
> programs which are not "free" by their definitions.  Basically it's  
> about not benefitting from the library unless you allow people to  
> benefit from your program in the same way.

If only that were true. The GPL explicitly allows a consumer of the  
library to benefit from the library without allowing others to benefit  
from their program in the same way -- except when they happen to ship  
the resulting work to one or more third parties. As third parties are  
not a) other branches of the same government institution, b) other  
divisions and/or subsidiaries of the same corporation, c) those who  
are working for hire or otherwise consulting for you etc, there are a  
host of scenarios where you can benefit from GPL code without  

I'd go so far as to say that the GPL isn't about freedom for the  
developer, it's about freedom for the consumer of the code (who just  
so happens to often be another developer). But the focus is on  
ensuring freedom to those who consume the code more than on what's  
best for the original developer (at least in so far as making sure the  
original developer's altruism is rewarded by seeing any/all updates or  
fixes to their code finding their way to the world at large).


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