"A disturbing thread came up at the recent VA Printing Summit.
Under one interpretation of the GPL, dynamic linking of proprietary
and GPL'ed code is allowed. If this is the case, then is dynamic
linking a hole big enough to fly a spaceship through?"
"The Gnu GPL clearly forbids distribution of a binary containing
both GPL code and proprietary code, as this binary constitutes a
derived work. However, with dynamic linking, there is no single
binary to point to as the derived work. Instead, the two separate
object files, each with their own license intact, get delivered to
the user, and only get combined when the program is actually
"There is a context in which this loophole may actually be
useful for some people - when manufacturers wish to provide drivers
without revealing secrets which they may consider valuable. We've
seen lots of binary-only drivers from both XFree86 and the Linux
kernel. Happily, in most cases these binary-only drivers are simply
a stepping stone to full source drivers released under an open