Subject: Re: Is a socket connection a derived work
From: David Johnson <>
Date: Sun, 9 Dec 2001 23:34:33 -0800

On Sunday 09 December 2001 10:32 pm, Michael Rice wrote:
> ... That is to say that
> the only interaction between my product and the GPL/LGPL would be with HTTP
> over a socket? I have a system that I'm thinking about putting under the
> LGPL that would consist only of socket calls (no comments about weird app
> design, please). Would it be considered derived if, say less than 25% of
> the functionality of the non open source product came from the open source
> web server? What if more than 50%? Or is it even a question of percents?

The answer to "is a socket connection a derived work" is no. Anyone who says 
differently is smoking dope.

The border between derivative and non-derivative works can be fuzzy and ill 
defined at time. The FSF seems to operate under the assumption that 
dependency creates derivation, and considers dynamic linkage to be a case of 
derivation. But even they do not consider runtime linkage to be derivation.

Of course, if you release a non-GPL product that is dependent upon a GPL 
product, even if it is only through communication over a socket, there will 
still be hordes of folks telling you that you have violated the sacred 
license. Expect to be tarred, feathered, drawn, quartered and emasculated on 
Spazdot the minute you do so.

David Johnson
pgp public key on website
license-discuss archive is at