Subject: Re: Possibly stupid GPL question
From: "L. Peter Deutsch" <>
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 15:03:05 -0700

I think the delay in providing the source is a red herring.  Let's consider:

  A proprietary company sees a GPLed project, notices a useful feature, and
  writes it.  They then start shipping their modified version.  One of the
  modifications makes the modified program useful only unless you happen to
  have another program available - a program that was independently
  developed, is not linked into any GPLed software, and which is completely
  proprietary.  That proprietary program is copyrighted under a proprietary

In other words, a company releases software that is GPL'ed, but useless
without obtaining proprietary software.  Nothing in the GPL precludes this
that I can see.  An example would be a Free or Open Source Mozilla plug-in
that talks to a proprietary server, from a company that plans to make their
money by licensing the server.  I suspect there are companies out there
right now that are planning on doing this.

As noted in my previous e-mail, I think the GPL tries to cast as wide a net
as possible to propagate (there's that word again :-)) itself to as much
software as possible that it comes in contact with.  This is a mildly
interesting example where it fails to capture software that is logically a
part of a GPL'ed system, but (IMO) not "part" of the GPL'ed work by any
reasonable standard.


L. Peter Deutsch         |       Aladdin Enterprises ::::
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