hypothetical(?) GPL problem

Frank Heckenbach frank at g-n-u.de
Thu Jun 21 14:35:57 UTC 2001

Marc Eberhard wrote:

> I wonder, why a company would want to hide the origin of a lib, if it would
> have been perfectly legal to do so. In case of the GPL it is clear. If they
> would reveal, that they use your lib, you could sue them. Thus they can only
> use your lib, if they hide, who has written it. On the other hand, if
> linking your lib into their program would be legal, why would they want to
> hide this fact from the end user?

Company policy? Or did, e.g., M$ ever official announce that some or
their networking code is based on BSD code? (AFAIK, this was
discovered by grepping for some strings in the binaries.)

> It could be even a plus for them to tell
> their users, that they use a known good lib for their program. So maybe one
> should only enforce to _acknowledge_ the usage of a free lib by closed
> source software companies, instead of restricting the usage itself. Just
> putting some text on the box like: "This software uses the excellent free
> lib xyz". 

Like this?

:   You must give prominent notice with each copy of the work that the
: Library is used in it and that the Library and its use are covered by
: this License.  You must supply a copy of this License.  If the work
: during execution displays copyright notices, you must include the
: copyright notice for the Library among them, as well as a reference
: directing the user to the copy of this License.

(LGPL, ยง6 which is about using LGPL libraries in non-free programs)

> The issue, that someone can use your source code to make money has been
> discussed here widely and I think, we agreed, that we are aware of this and
> that we accept this.

Again, it's not about making money, it's about non-free programs.
Authors who use the LGPL for their libraries have decided to allow
this, those who use GPL have decided not to.

> > And yes, the more I think about the original question, the more I'm
> > convinced it can be done. Well, companies are already distributing
> > binary stuff that the user must link with the Linux kernel (like the
> > disk-on-chip driver: I used it, no thanks).
> And it brings me back to my original comment: Why should we want to do
> anything against it?

If this became the rule for hardware makers to do, it would soon be
impossible to run a completely free Linux kernel on modern hardware.


Frank Heckenbach, frank at g-n-u.de
PGP and GPG keys: http://fjf.gnu.de/plan

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