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Re: Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

On Jun 18, 2008, Les Mikesell <lesmikesell gmail com> wrote:

> Alexandre Oliva wrote:
>>> If it's silly, then you shouldn't have any problem showing where it is
>>> executed as part of "the Program",
>> Execution is irrelevant, because copyright law doesn't apply to this
>> act.

> Does that mean you disagree with the FSF claim that it is not
> permitted to distribute non-GPL'd software that dynamically links to
> unique libraries only available under the GPL?

I agree that the GPL doesn't grant permission for the distribution of
such derived works under terms others than those specified in the GPL.

> And the GPL's 'work as a whole' concept

I don't know what you're talking about.  "work as a whole" appears
only once in the license, and there 'work' is not a verb, but rather
part of the "modified work" phrase.

> doesn't apply to the running program?

In some jurisdictions, the copying from disk to RAM for purposes of
execution requires permission from the copyright holder.  I guess some
might even accept claims such as that the mechanical processing of
relocations at dynamic linking time amounts to modifying the work.
But none have much to do with actually running the program.  That's
unrestricted by copyright law.a

> If it is actually permissible to deliver any combination of
> components separately under different licenses with tools to combine
> them at run time, then the GPL is not nearly as harmful as I've
> believed.

If the GPLed work is not derived from the non-GPLed work, you might be
able to present this as a defense in case someone sues you for
distributing the two components artificially separately just to escape
the requirements of the license.

>> It is *distributed* as part of the program, and that's what copyright
>> law restricts by default. 

> Which is irrelevant if you have permission to distribute all parts.

If they form a coherent whole to the point of being regarded by a
court, according to copyright law, as a derived/collective work, then
it is relevant.  And then, this is not the case we're talking about
here.  We're talking of a case in which one part became an integral,
essential and inseparable part from the other, so the distinction is
definitely no longer irrelevant, because it's a different case.

> It is only the weirdness of the GPL denying the right to distribute
> under many conditions that even makes this a question.


>> And it's distributed as inseparable part of
>> the program while at that.

> I don't see how you can say it is inseparable when the firmware
> downloader understands the separation perfectly

You got your facts wrong, I'm afraid.  The code in question doesn't
even use the firmware downloader.  It absolutely requires the code to
be part of the source code.

> it's a part of the program since it gets
> installed on different hardware - except maybe for the CPU microcode.

So, when you use say Google Docs, just because some part of the
program is shipped to your computer while another keeps on running on
Google's servers, they're not part of the same program named "Google

Just because a program uses Java RMI to transfer classes from one
process to another (that may be running on a different machine), the
classes are not part of that program?

Do you even have an argument here, or are you just saying it, to fill
in the void? :-)

Alexandre Oliva         http://www.lsd.ic.unicamp.br/~oliva/
Free Software Evangelist  oliva {lsd ic unicamp br, gnu.org}
FSFLA Board Member       ¡Sé Libre! => http://www.fsfla.org/
Red Hat Compiler Engineer   aoliva {redhat com, gcc.gnu.org}

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