Subject: Re: Ghostscript, GPL, printers, ...
From: "Adam J. Richter" <>
Date: Mon, 1 Dec 1997 08:37:36 -0800

>> = Adam Richter
>  = Peter Deutsch

>>	I believe that the benefit to Alladin would be that more
>> people would use the latest Ghostscript, improving your bug detection
>> and user interest in latest versions.

>But that is at least partly because distributors of GPL'ed software
>currently don't want users to know that there are better AFPL'ed versions
>available.  In other words, FSF and Yggdrasil (among others) find that it's
>in their interest to make it less easy for people to find and use the latest
>and best Ghostscript, and then turn around and say "See, if you put
>Ghostscript under the GPL, more people would use the latest and best
>Ghostscript."  I think this is a perfectly reasonable self-interested thing
>to be doing in the cause of promoting GPL over AFPL or other more restricted
>licenses, but from my point of view it has a bit the flavor of creating
>artificial scarcity.

	Yggdrasil is not trying to restrict the dissemenation of
product information.  I tell people about Aladdin Ghostscript when
they ask a question that is relevant to it.  Your software is
available on the internet.  We have products where consisting entirely
of software the is freely redistributable in the GNU sense is
strategically important.  The cost breaking this feature for the minor
benefits of upgrading to the latest Aladdin Ghostscript is not worth
it.  You may be interested to know that there is a ton of other free
software out there that we do not include in these products, for
starters because it would not all fit without driving up the cost by
adding more CD's.  We have 18GB just in our internal FTP mirrors.

>> 	I believe that one of the benefits *to the public* would be
>> that the latest version of Ghostscript would be available for *future*
>> software projects.  For example, if we decided we wanted to add
>> postscript support to the Arena web browser that we maintain, we could
>> use a newer version.

>You could do that now if you wanted.  The AFPL doesn't prevent you from
>combining AFPL'ed code with GPL'ed code: it's only the GPL that does that.
>In fact, you could even argue that (Aladdin) Ghostscript is an "identifiable
>... independent and separate work" that doesn't need to be GPL'ed to be
>distributed with and called from a GPL'ed program (presumably by exec), and
>I wouldn't want to challenge you in court.  I believe the only thing that's
>preventing you from doing it is philosophical opposition to the AFPL.

>> Certainly, the FSF believes that the GPL prevents most "user does the link"
>> attempts and faced down NeXT computer over this issue on the Objective C
>> extensions to GCC.

>I think FSF would be on much weaker ground if the GPL'ed program was kept as
>a separate executable and called via exec.  Furthermore, it's not clear to
>me that the concept of "link" means much any more.  There is little
>technical distinction between 'exec' and a call to a library loaded
>dynamically by name at run time and clearly designed to be used by a set of
>clients not known in advance.  The gcc extensions didn't have either of
>these qualities.  For embedded use in printers, it's a small matter of
>programming to make Ghostscript generate raster output on something like a
>named pipe, at which point Ghostscript can remain a self-contained
>executable and the situation is pretty much the same as on the desktop.

>> Also, since the GPL apparently lacks a "full and complete understanding"
>> clause, you could include a note to say essentially "in case there is any
>> uncertainty, we and the FSF interpret this document to mean that you
>> cannot do (1) this, (2) that, and (3) the other thing."

>I can't imagine that this would have legal force, since it would be
>tantamount to changing the GPL, which is not allowed.  But I'm not a lawyer.
>Is there a lawyer in the house?


>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     |
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