Please help me respond to a German user about the GPL

Michael Kesper mkesper at
Wed Feb 10 11:14:22 UTC 2010


On Tue, Feb 09, 2010 at 05:01:24PM -0600, Jeff Epler wrote:
> In a web forum about emc2 (often called just emc), a GPLv2only-licensed
> program, a developer has posted some comments about the GPL that are
> very surprising from my US-centric viewpoint of the GPL).
> The developer, Thomas G., is writing a new GUI for emc2; the source code
> for the GUI includes some files adapted from the emc2 source
> distribution, and the compilation process uses header files and
> libraries from the emc2 binary distribution.
> My understanding is that there is no difficulty in releasing the new GUI
> under the terms of the GPLv2, but Thomas seems to have some reservations
> that I do not understand:
> > as we do not have the Gpl- Licence in Europe (mean we have it but it
> > is intended different) i still do not know what licence to provide
> > with the source... In Europe everything that is published has a
> > copyright. Even the emc- example Nc-Code, Hal-Examples etc... So
> > normally i am not allowed to make a copy of emc in Europe... If there
> > is a "real" copyright depends on the code itself. For Example: if i
> > take a "small" Part of external code (lets say 100 lines of code) into
> > a big project (about 80.000 lines of code) and the external code is a
> > code that itself has parts that were taken from other published
> > code-fragments, the external code cannot have a copyright...  But you
> > can feel free to copy / modify the source as you want...
> Please help me understand and respond to his concerns, particularly from
> the standpoint of European or German copyright.

He's very mistaken. Many people are confused by the word "Copyleft", but
the GNU GPL is built solely upon the principles of Copyright. The GNU GPL was
even upheld in court several times in Germany. You should tell him to
consult the Freedom Task Force (FTF) of FSFE [1] if he needs further

Best wishes

Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) []   (
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