[License-discuss] Differences between GPL and LGPL

Lawrence Rosen lrosen at rosenlaw.com
Thu Jan 3 21:12:11 UTC 2013

Chris Travers wrote:

> Here's a hypothetical.

First I need to ask you: Which company (FossGames LLC or EvilCorp Inc) is my
client?  :-)


Second, I would defer my answer until I reread Sega v. Accolade [1], which
as I recall suggested that FossGames and EvilCorp don't need each other's
permission to write video games with their own music under licenses of their




[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sega_v._Accolade 


Lawrence Rosen

Rosenlaw & Einschlag, a technology law firm (www.rosenlaw.com)

3001 King Ranch Rd., Ukiah, CA 95482

Office: 707-485-1242


From: Chris Travers [mailto:chris at metatrontech.com] 
Sent: Thursday, January 03, 2013 5:46 AM
To: Lawrence Rosen; license-discuss at opensource.org
Subject: Re: [License-discuss] Differences between GPL and LGPL


I don't entirely disagree with you.

My reading of the LGPL however is that it offers a safe harbor from the
derivation requirements if the vehicle for that derivation is linking.  I
don't think linking is either necessary or sufficient for derivation.  I
don't even think it is usually that relevant.  However, there are at least
some cases where it might come into play.

Here's a hypothetical.

Suppose FossGames, LLC releases a video game music player engine under the
LGPL along with an embedded MIDI synthesizer which produces a distinctive,
and artistic sound.  Let's say further that it comes with a set of built-in
MIDI sequences.  Let's say further that EvilCorp Inc releases a closed
source video game which uses FossGames MIDI engine and even their built in
music, all by linking to FossGames' engine, which they publish on their web
site, as minimally required by the LGPL.  FossGames sues EvilCorp alleging
that EvilCorp's game is an audiovisual work which infringes on their right
to make derivative works of the music embedded in their MIDI engine.
EvilCorp responds saying that the LGPL offers a safe harbor where linking,
and invoking routines in linked libraries, is the means of that derivation.
By my reading EvilCorp wins summary judgement (which they would not win with
the GPL) or am I missing something?

I can't think of any other case where it clearly makes a difference though.

Best Wishes,
Chris Travers

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