[ILUG] GPL clarification.
rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu Mar 31 17:24:24 IST 2005
Quoting Bryan O'Donoghue (typedef at eircom.net):
> In fact I view linking to GPL code and not GPLing the resulting binary
> as violating the spirit if not the letter of the GPL, but, that's not
> going to hold water, in legalese.
What gets violated is copyright law, i.e., the tort of copyright
violation. (The phrase "violating the GPL" doesn't really mean
anything, tends to confuse people, and is best avoided.)
Here is the situation explained with only one (1) term of legalese: You
download a copy of some third-party work and decided you'd like to use
it in creating your own work. You read the copy's attached permission
statement, which is a copy of GPLv2. It says that you may enjoy get
certain extra rights, otherwise reserved to the copyright holder, if you
undertake certain obligations including also putting any code you
distribute that is a derivative work of the third-party one under GPLv2.
It points out that, if you don't meet those obligations, you aren't
prevented from using the third-party work, but aren't granted those
The one unavoidable legalese term in the above is "derivative work",
whose scope is defined vaguely by copyright law and more exactly by
iterative legal combat. Sorry about that.
> In brief, are the above statements before "Note" essentially true ?
You would end up being subject to possible lawsuit for the civil-law
tort of copyright infringement by whoever owns copyright title to the
work distributed under GPL terms. If the judge agrees that your work is
derivative of his, you would lose.
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