Subject: Re: Possibly stupid GPL question
From: "Karsten M. Self" <>
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 16:17:42 -0700

It's a de facto additionally imposed restriction.  The language of the
GPL is "you may not impose any further restrictions".  Means of
imposition (legal, operational, software, mechanical) aren't defined. 
My argument merits on spirit and quite possibly letter.

Your example is a fair one.  I've released SAS macros under GPL.  SAS is
required to interpret and run the programs -- and it's most decidedly
not free software.  Was my choice of the GPL moot?  I'll have to think
that one over.

Ben's example, however, took a work, ammended it, and in so doing
restricted its application in such a way that directly benefitted the
party making the modifications.  I'd tend to see this as an intentional,
rather than an incidental, restriction.

AFAIK, there's nothing ineherent to COBOL which prevents the development
of a free compiler.  There was an alternate interpreter for SAS in the
early 1990s (the BASS system, by Jeff Bass, for PC).  Platform
dependencies are likewise platform dependencies -- there are also
features of Unix and/or Linux which aren't available on Windows
(certainly not stock, possibly not even with added compatibility kits). 
Missing systems functionality seems to me to be a world apart from
intentionally created, application-specific, dependencies.

L. Peter Deutsch wrote:
> > It's not clear to me that requiring additional (proprietary) components,
> > whether software or hardware, violate granted rights (copy, distribute,
> > modify) or impose an additional restriction (running the Program).
> The *license* doesn't impose any additional restriction on doing those
> things, since it isn't the *license* that imposes the requirement: it's the
> design of the program itself.  If I distribute GPL'ed source code written in
> Cobol, the fact that there are no Free Cobol compilers (I don't know this,
> but let's assume it), and that you need one in order to run the program,
> can't reasonably be considered a "restriction".  If I distribute GPL'ed
> source code that uses facilities provided only by Microsoft Windows, the
> fact that you need Windows to run it isn't a "restriction".  If I distribute
> GPL'ed source code that is a client for a pre-existing proprietary server,
> surely you can't argue that that constitutes a "restriction".
> > If the latter, and I think it could be so argued,
> I would argue strongly to the contrary.
> --
> L. Peter Deutsch         |       Aladdin Enterprises ::::
> 203 Santa Margarita Ave. | tel. +1-650-322-0103 (AM only); fax +1-650-322-1734
> Menlo Park, CA 94025     |

Karsten M. Self (
    What part of "Gestalt" don't you understand?

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