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Advogato: Does the GPL have any teeth?

Aug 16, 2000, 02:04 (13 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by advogato)

"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 run."

"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 source license."

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