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[Discuss] GPL and code linkages

On Sun, Dec 30, 2012 at 06:04:30PM -0500, MBR wrote:
> Just a couple of comments.
> On 12/30/2012 12:25 PM, Derek Martin wrote:
> > The Drupal people are wrong, and this is the nature of their
> > mistake.

> I never said anything about what interpretation others in the Drupal
> community put on this.  

You didn't, but it seemed relevant.  I was implicitly referring to

    7: If I write a module or theme, do I have to license it
       under the GPL?

       Yes. Drupal modules and themes are a derivative work
       of Drupal. 

This is false.  It may be true in some instances if the module or
theme uses parts of the original Drupal code or content, but in
general it is false.  There's been a bit of a brouhaha over this
issue, so my assumption was that, given your interest in this issue,
you'd encountered it before.  Hence the implicit reference rather than
an explicit one.

> You're right that the restriction is on DISTRIBUTING the work, but
> you seem to be considering only two kinds of licenses: the GPL and
> GPL-incompatible licenses.  

I'm only considering GPL (v2, since that's what Drupal uses, and
that's the context in which you raised your questions) because that is
what the GPL dictates.  It's not something I made up.  Section 2b:

    b) You must cause any work that you distribute or
    publish, that in whole or in part contains or is derived
    from the Program or any part thereof, to be licensed as
    a whole at no charge to all third parties under the
    terms of THIS LICENSE. [emp. added.]

Section 4 also states:

   4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute
      the Program except as expressly provided under this

So while conventional wisdom is that you can distribute your software
under multiple licenses, and thereby get around the problem, the GPLv2
appears to restrict you from doing so, IF YOU ARE NOT THE COPYRIGHT
HOLDER.  There is (AFAICT) no other clause which allows you to
distribute your derivative work under any other license.  Other
licenses usually have similar clauses; so regardless of what the FSF
says they consider GPL-compatible, you still have to honor the
licenses of each individual software package.  Section 10 further
deals with this.  If you have multiple components licensed under
multiple licenses, and you can not get permission from each of the
original copyright holders to release it under one particular license,
you may not distribute the combined work under ANY license.  At least,
that's the case if any of the peices are GPL.

If you ARE the original copyright holder of the GPL-licensed work, you
can do whatever you like with YOUR GPL'd code.  So you can incorporate
someone's BSD-licensed code, and release the resulting work under the
BSD license.  And if you can get permission from the third-party
copyright holder (? la section 10), you can also distribute the
combined work under the GPL.  But you have no such freedoms if you are
not the original copyright holder, unless you can get permissions from
all relevant parties to distribute it under your chosen license.

Now, the FSF and/or rms may have made clarificatory statements
regarding the intent of the license which allow for such things, and
it may be that they do not intend to hold anyone accountable under
those circumstances.  However AFAIK you are legally bound (if at all)
by the terms of the license, and nothing else.  So it's not clear to
me that those statements mean anything.  That's where being a lawyer
might come in handy...  Such statements, if made, might or might not
constitute modification of the license agreement.  

Derek D. Martin   GPG Key ID: 0xDFBEAD02
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