Subject: Re: Corba interfaces and GPL freedom
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 14 Sep 2003 23:54:20 -0700

"Iain Barker" <> writes:

> A proprietary vendor could create non-free software that functionally would
> amount to a derived work, without actually making a derived work within the
> meaning of copyright law. Would this break the spirit of the GPL while
> complying with its terms, hence not be enforcable under copyright law?

The Open Software License is intended to address this issue.

I have heard that the FSF has been considering whether and how to
address this in GPLv3.  However, this has been a rumor for a long time

> A GPL application is modified by a vendor of non-free software, who adds a
> Corba server API to the application. The vendor releases the source code to
> the GPL application and modifications per the GPL terms.
> The vendor then creates a non-free Corba client application which uses that
> API but incorporates none of the GPL code. The source code to the client
> application is not released by the vendor. Non-free applications could also
> be used as Corba servers to a GPL client application in the same manner.
> Essentially the freedom of the GPL codebase is reduced either way around.

That's not the best example of the problem.  A better example is when
the vendor modifies a GPL application, and does not release the source
code.  After all, the GPL has no requirement to release source code
when there is no distribution.

Or, perhaps I am jumping to conclusions.  Your stated issue amounts to
the fact that it is possible to write a proprietary application which
talks to a GPL application.  That is true.  Personally, I don't
consider that to be a problem, at least no more than any proprietary
application is a problem.

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