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SubjectRe: [PATCH] USB: mark USB drivers as being GPL only
On Saturday 09 February 2008 23:50:17 Marcel Holtmann wrote:
> > > It makes no difference if you
> > > distribute the GPL library with it or not.
> >
> > If you do not distribute the GPL library, the library is simply being
> > used in the intended, ordinary way. You do not need to agree to, nor can
> > you violate, the GPL simply by using a work in its ordinary intended way.
> >
> > If the application contains insufficient copyrightable expression from
> > the library to be considered a derivative work (and purely functional
> > things do not count), then it cannot be a derivative work. The library is
> > not being copied or distributed. So how can its copyright be infringed?
> go ahead and create an application that uses a GPL only library. Then
> ask a lawyer if it is okay to distribute your application in binary only
> form without making the source code available (according to the GPL).
> Regards
> Marcel

In the US, at least, the belief that "Linking", in *ANY* form, with a GPL
library creates a derivative work, is fallacious. Were I to create an
application that uses, say, GTK for the interface the protected expression is
my "unique and creative" use of the GTK API for creating the specific
interface and any other code I have written using the API. I hold sole
license to the copyright on that code and am able to license said code under
the specific license of my choice.

Why? Because the pre-processor is what is including any GPL'd code in my
application and expanding any macros. That is a purely mechanical process and
hence the output is not able to be separately copyrighted - if it could be,
then the copyright would be held by the *COMPILER*, and I am *NOT* bound by
the license on that code. The same applies if GPL'd code is included in my
application during the linking process. QED: The "Linking" argument used by
most people is wholly fallacious in at least one major country - and if I'm
not mistaken, the output from an automated process is similarly not
considered as carrying a separate copyright in all nations that are
signatories of or follow the Bern Convention.

(And yes, this also applies to some GPL'd tools that RMS extended "GPL
Exemptions" to - such as "Bison". There is, generally, no need for such an
exemption, because the process by which the GPL'd code is included in the
final binary is wholly mechanical.)

PS: The above information is a very condensed form of the result of several
past conversations on this list about copyright law and the GPL as well as my
own, private discussions with lawyers. I'm being lazy here and not searching
various archives of LKML to give pointers to the past discussions.

Dialup is like pissing through a pipette. Slow and excruciatingly painful.

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