[License-discuss] GPL and proprietary WebAPIs

Clark C. Evans cce at clarkevans.com
Fri Dec 23 05:10:43 UTC 2011

On Thu, Dec 22, 2011, at 01:34 PM, Rick Moen wrote:
> You know, Clark:  Speaking for myself, I have no interest 
> in advising querents about how closely they can lawfully 
> skirt the requirements of copyleft licences, or how they 
> can creatively circumvent those requirements entirely, in 
> order to use copylefted properties in proprietary works.
> You keep asking basically the same question, but are seeing 
> scant interest in helping you.  Might be that my view is common.

Your characterization is wholly inaccurate, although
I could see how you might arrive at this conclusion.

My objective by asking this question is to determine if 
the GPL is an appropriate license for our consulting 
organization to release suite of tools and programs
that are currently bundled with our services.  I have 
some doubts since there seems to be a general consensus 
that you can easily use WebAPIs to evade the GPLv2. 

Our general application would be similar to Chris 
Travers' accounting application, and the case I'm 
concerned about would be very similar to what I posted 
in my follow-up.  That is, could a competitor submit a 
set of hooks/menus as a "derived work" and effectively 
shield proprietary functionality via a WebAPI?  I later 
found Chris Kleisath's blog post that implies that 
Sybase uses a similar technique.

I'm asking, openly, what people's public opinion on this
matter is.  I'm not asking for advice about how I could
incorporate GPL licensed material into a proprietary work.



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