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Re: [vox-tech] GPL license clarification
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Re: [vox-tech] GPL license clarification



On Tue, Sep 11, 2001 at 04:44:29PM -0700, Mark K. Kim wrote:
> Hey guys.  I need some clarification with the GPL license agreement.
> 
> 1. If I use the code in-house (never release it to the public), am I still
>    required to release the source?  I'm using a piece of GPL code at work
>    and although the program doesn't give away any company secrets
>    (although I guess if you're really smart you might be able to figure
>    *something* out), it's not really a program other people will find
>    useful and it'd be lame to post bunch of unuseful software on our
>    website.

No.  In fact, the FSF is very strongly against licenses that require
you to release the source simply because of personal modifications.  I
believe the Apple Public Source License is an example.  If you read
the reasons the FSF terms this a "non-free" license, one of the
biggest reasons it remains so despite changes to appease the FSF is
that "any modified version 'deployed' in an organization must be
published."  cf. http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/apsl.html

> 2. I'm using a copy of getopt from the GNU library because the copy of
>    getopt that comes with DJGPP (GCC for DOS) is the BSD version that's
>    not very flexible.  So I just compiled getopt.c from the GCC source
>    and link it with my program, which seems to work fine.  But getopt.c
>    is GPL, not LGPL.  Does it mean my program also needs to be GPL?

This could get a little fuzzy.  I assume that you mean the getopt.c
from libiberty, distributed with gcc.  The file is clearly marked with
the GPL license, yet libiberty is supposedly licensed under the LGPL,
so the line is way too unclear.  To be on the safe side, you should
assume, yes, your program needs to be GPL.

There is a work-around, though - the getopt.c distributed with glibc
*is* marked with the LGPL, and if it doesn't work out of the box, you
should be able to modify it to, while still remaining under the terms
of the LGPL.  Remember, though, that in order for you not to violate
the terms of the license, you must link dynamically, rather than
statically, if your program is not LGPL'd or GPL'd.

I'm pretty sure that libiberty was intended to be LGPL'd - their
ChangeLog seems to indicate so, but the irony is that the Makefile
that comes with it (at least in the gcc one) only compiles a static
library, which you can't link to non-GPL'd binaries anyway.  I'd bet
that if you advise whoever is responsible for it, they'd fix the
offending files (and additionally give you several pages of why you
should be using the GPL anyway).

> 3. Assuming the answer to #2 is "yes", another question: I know you can
>    write programs in Linux without GPL-ing your program -- is that because
>    the C library is dynamically linked, not statically?  What if you
>    were on a system that doesn't support dynamic linking?

It is because (1) the C library is LGPL'd, not GPL'd, and (2) the C
library is dynamically linked.  Your last question is moot, because
there are currently no such systems to which glibc has been ported
(only Linux and GNU), but if there were, static linking to glibc would
still be illegal.

> 
> 4. If getopt.c *were* LGPL, could I link it statically without making my
>    program GPL?

Yes; you could make it LGPL ;)

Otherwise, you're stuck with compiling getopt.c as an .so.  I agree
that it's a pain, but my advice to you would be to accept the
limitations of the one you have, or write your own implementation.  

Micah


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