Subject: Re: programs vs. libraries
From: Russell Nelson <nelson@crynwr.com>
Date: 29 Aug 1998 05:03:00 -0000

shap@eros.cis.upenn.edu writes:
 > > ... The idea behind GPL'ed software is this: We are selling you this
 > > software.  You don't have to ask us for our permission to buy it.
 > > All that you have to do is free your software.  If you can't afford
 > > that price, then you have to license the software.
 > 
 > Russ:
 > 
 > First, I do understand your point.
 > 
 > That said, I feel *no* moral obligation of any sort to buy into the
 > larger GPL mission.  The moral obligation, if any, is only to the
 > stated requirements of the license, though I agree that turning
 > programs into reusable components requires a re-examination of the
 > intent.

The problem is that the GPL is a legal document, not a moral one.  As
such, it has to be an enforcable legal document.  You should look
elsewhere for moral obligations, which, as a businessman, affect the
reputation of your business, at least among those members of the
community which share the morals of the publisher.

 > 1. Running gcc on top of Solaris doesn't require me to free Solaris.
 >    You seem to suggest that running Linux on top of EROS is different
 >    in some way.  I'ld appreciate your thoughts on why the two cases
 >    are not parallel.

You're not the publisher of Solaris, so you have no such obligation.

 > 2. If drivers are extracted from Linux and run as user mode software
 >    on an operating system that does user-mode drivers, the modified
 >    GPL driver clearly needs to be released under GPL.  Does the
 >    operating system?  The two are separate programs...

Right, well, think of public domain, University- and BSD-licensed
software as both libre (although not necessarily derivatives of it) and
gratis (although not completely so, since BSD licensing requires
acknowledgement of use).  Think of GPL'ed software as libre but not
gratis.  Essentially, what you're proposing is to exploit the rules
(which exist in the context of intellectual property law that does not
fit very well) without actually breaking them.

-- 
-russ nelson <rn-sig@crynwr.com>  http://crynwr.com/~nelson
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