Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 7th Sep 2010 21:52 UTC
Games I've often harped on Apple for its policy regarding jailbreaking, but of course, Apple isn't the only company engaging in such practices. We already talked about Motorola, and now, we have Sony - already a company with a checkered past when it comes to consumer rights. As it turns out, Sony don't want you jailbreaking your their Playstation 3.
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RE[3]: Ridiculous
by lemur2 on Wed 8th Sep 2010 03:59 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Ridiculous"
lemur2
Member since:
2007-02-17

Wrong analogy - since that's a perfectly legal activity.

I think you meant - it would be like *distributing* a proprietary app linked against the GPL without also distributing your source, or providing the recipient with an offer to obtain the source code along with it.


Even a proprietary application dynamically linked against GPL libraries is OK to distribute, because the proprietary application does not include the GPL libraries. With dynamic linking, the libraries are assumed to be already installed on the end user system, and the proprietary application just calls them. This is fully within the GPL terms ... anyone may simply run the GPL code for any purpose.

A problem only comes about when a proprietary application statically links in a GPL library. This means that the GPL code is now included within the proprietary application. The proprietary application now becomes a derived work according to the definitions of copyright law.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Derived_work
A derivative work pertaining to copyright law, is an expressive creation that includes major, copyright-protected elements of an original, previously created first work.


When it is statically linked the GPL library is included in the proprietary application, the GPL code is a copyright-protected element of an original, previously created first work, and a whole library is indeed a "major element" of the whole work.

According to copyright law, rights to the derived work are in such a case jointly held by the authors of the separate elements that make up the work. The joint owners must come to an agreement about distribution rights with respect to the derived work. If the authors of the proprietary code within the derived work wish to have distribution rights for the derived work, then they must get permission from the authors of all other parts of the derived work which were written by other parties.

The GPL alone does not give such permission. Another license must be sought.

Note that the LGPL license DOES actually give such permission as an exception to the copyleft terms of the GPL. For this very reason, many libraries are licensed under LGPL rather than GPL.

Edited 2010-09-08 04:15 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Ridiculous
by saynte on Wed 8th Sep 2010 07:03 in reply to "RE[3]: Ridiculous"
saynte Member since:
2007-12-10


Even a proprietary application dynamically linked against GPL libraries is OK to distribute, because the proprietary application does not include the GPL libraries. With dynamic linking, the libraries are assumed to be already installed on the end user system, and the proprietary application just calls them. This is fully within the GPL terms ... anyone may simply run the GPL code for any purpose.


You realize that the FSF disagrees? They (and I believe Richard Stallman) hold that even dynamically linking constitutes a derived work, although that is only their opinion.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[5]: Ridiculous
by lemur2 on Wed 8th Sep 2010 07:29 in reply to "RE[4]: Ridiculous"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

"
Even a proprietary application dynamically linked against GPL libraries is OK to distribute, because the proprietary application does not include the GPL libraries. With dynamic linking, the libraries are assumed to be already installed on the end user system, and the proprietary application just calls them. This is fully within the GPL terms ... anyone may simply run the GPL code for any purpose.


You realize that the FSF disagrees? They (and I believe Richard Stallman) hold that even dynamically linking constitutes a derived work, although that is only their opinion.
"

If it is so, it is indeed only the opinion of the FSF, because copyright law itself clearly says that a derived work is only created when a work includes another earlier work within it. Also, the GPL itself says that only distribution of GPL'd code requires that the soruce code is made available.

A proprietary program which merely dynamically links to GPL'd code clearly does not include the GPL'd code in that package which is physically distributed. Therefore, the act of dynamically linking to GPL'd libraries does not come under the restrictions of the GPL, and there is no derived work (under copyright law) involved.

Perhaps the FSF might argue that the proprietary program when running on the users system, as held in the user's RAM at that time it does include the dynamically linked GPL'd code ... but that form of the program is not what was distributed. It is the users who use the proprietary program plus the GPL'd code together, and the users have permission to do that from the GPL (for the GPL'd code) and from the purchase license (for the proprietary part).

It is a fine legal argument, I suppose, but on the face of it, that is what copyright law itself would appear to uphold. On first principles, it would seem that it is perfectly within the law and within the terms of the GPL license to distribute a proprietary program that merely dynamically links to GPL'd code in order to run on an end user's system.

Caveat: IANAL.

PS: In every case of GPL violations that the FSF has argued in court, AFAIK it has involved instances when GPL'd code was physically included in the package that was being distributed. These are the ONLY cases the FSF has tried to enforce.

Edited 2010-09-08 07:40 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Ridiculous
by danieldk on Wed 8th Sep 2010 07:09 in reply to "RE[3]: Ridiculous"
danieldk Member since:
2005-11-18

This is the interpretation of some. Others, for instance the Free Software Foundation, believe that dynamic linking is creating a derivative work. For this reason, they have created the LGPL (which does allow dynamic linking in proprietary applications, but not static linking).

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[5]: Ridiculous
by lemur2 on Wed 8th Sep 2010 07:49 in reply to "RE[4]: Ridiculous"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

This is the interpretation of some. Others, for instance the Free Software Foundation, believe that dynamic linking is creating a derivative work. For this reason, they have created the LGPL (which does allow dynamic linking in proprietary applications, but not static linking).


This might be what the FSF believe, but it is not what copyright law says. Copyright law says that a derived work must include major elements of an earlier copyrighted work. Dynamic linked libraries (the earlier copyrighted work) are NOT present in the as-distributed work (whereas static linked libraries are). Furthermore, it is the act of distribution of code, and not the mere running of code, that the copyleft provisions of the GPL apply to.

If the FSF were to try to mount a case such as you argue in court, I do not see how they could logically prevail.

The FSF have never tried to argue such a case, AFAIK, and all GPL violations that have been argued by the FSF have involved instances where GPL code was in fact being distributed, physically included within larger (proprietary) works. This, and only this, is the no-no that has bite under the law.

Edited 2010-09-08 07:55 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2