hypothetical(?) GPL problem

John Tapsell tapselj0 at cs.man.ac.uk
Wed Jun 20 08:51:57 UTC 2001

I don't know whether this is correct or not, but I like your reasoning :)
However... who cares?
If they go to all that trouble ...
And would you risk it?

On Tue, 19 Jun 2001, you wrote:
> Hi all,
> please consider the following hypothetical scenario.
> 1. Software vendor V produces a proprietary program P. This program has
> some function which can be implemented by using an existing and
> excellent library L. Since this library is covered by the GNU GPL, V can
> not use L with his proprietary program P and distribute the whole unless
> he places the whole under the GPL as well.
> 2. Since the function which could be implemented using L is really
> needed, V programs a replacement R for L which he is free to distribute
> under any license he wishes.
> 3. Customer C gets P from V. He is unsatisfied by the quality of the
> replacement R and asks V if he can change P so that it uses the superior
> free library L. V walks over to C's place and changes P to use L instead
> of R. He does not change the proprietary license under which he provided
> P to C in the first place.
> Now please consider this question:
> Is V violating the terms of the GPL in step 3? Is it possible to say
> that he is _not redistributing_ a work including both code form L
> covered by the GPL and his own proprietary code and that he is _not
> violating_ the GPL since 2.b) of the GPL only aplies to distributing or
> publishing? Can V claim that he is only providing a service in altering
> P after he distributed it and that altering can not be called
> distribution?
> It is my strong believe that answering the above questions with 'yes' is
> at least against the spirit of the GPL. But is it against it's words,
> too?
> Regards
> Lutz
> -- 
> Lutz Horn <lh at lutz-horn.de>
> For PGP information see header.

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