[Fsfe-ie] Re: gpl and web scripting

Jimmy O'Regan jimregan at o2.ie
Mon Oct 27 03:34:25 CET 2003

Niall Douglas wrote:

>On 26 Oct 2003 at 12:13, David O'Callaghan wrote:
>>>As Ciaran has said, if his derived work does not leave the server
>>>then he isn't distributing it and thus doesn't need to release the
>>>source. I, unlike the FSF, don't see a problem with that as he
>>>couldn't give it to anyone else so there's no real risk for
>>>commercial exploitation.
>>I don't think the FSF would see a problem with that either. What do
>>you mean by "he couldn't give it to anyone else"?
>The FSF can't have a /legal/ problem with it because the GPL permits 
>You can't distribute GPLed code without making its source available. 
That's not strictly true; you can add a note offering to provide the 
source for anyone who requests it.

>That includes limited releases to your friends or a beta test group 
>or anything else. It would be interesting however if the diffs from 
>the public version were distributed alone - while it's against the 
>spirit of the GPL and likely that diffs are a legally derived work 
>under copyright, I don't know of a court case proving it one way or 
>another (however, IANAL).
Well, if you had a version of diff that included none of the original 
work in the .diff, you might be on to something.

>>The original message said "someone downloads the code and changes it"
>>so these modifications would have to be under the GPL. If the changes
>>consisted of implementing a plug-in interface, it's possible that the
>>same person might also write a plug-in library that would not be
>>covered by the GPL.
>Precisely. If you see Linus' comments on kernel modules and the long 
>debate about whether a kernel module is a derived work or not, it's 
>clear that an ABI boundary is considered a derivability boundary. I 
>myself feel that a GPLed DLL can be used by a commercial program 
>without problem - however while this gets members of the GPL cult[1] 
>very riled, I have not met one who can point to any definitive test 
>case history supporting that analysis. OTOH, I can't point to any 
>either - it's yet to be decided.
I doubt it will be tested; few companies would wish to bet their 
software on being proved right. Plug-ins are an unclear case; dlls in 
general though, I shouldn't think so - if a program can't function 
without a certain dll, I don't think any lawyer will have too much 
trouble in showing that the program is a derivative work. A lot of 
people try to toy with the definition of "derivative" to achieve their 
goals. If a program uses a library to perform a function, it, in other 
words, derives its ability to perform that function from the library, 
therefore the combined whole is a derivative of the library.

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