kdelibs and the GPL

Rolf Magnus ramagnus at t-online.de
Thu Jun 20 17:44:39 BST 2002

On Thursday 20 June 2002 15:35, Rob Kaper wrote:

> Well.. "ultimately judges will decide", "we *believe*" (emphasis added) and
> "*could* be a *basis* to consider" (emphasis added) do not sound very
> convincing.
> Well, um, it could be, might not be, but it could be, a basis - not an
> actual reason just a basis - to consider..

Ok, but OTOH - can you be sure that you'll win if the FSF sues you?

> A shell script can manipulate many internal and complex datastructures of
> the shell itself when it is interpreted. Intimate enough to force all shell
> (or for that matter, PHP/Perl, which allows you to change the PHP engine
> behaviour as well) scripts to be licensed compatible to the licenses of
> those environments?

According to the GPL FAQ (damn, now I'm quoting it again), this is not the 
case, because:

"The interpreted program, to the interpreter, is just data; the GPL doesn't 
restrict what tools you process the program with. However, when the 
interpreter is extended to provide "bindings" to other facilities (often, but 
not necessarily, libraries), the interpreted program is effectively linked to 
the facilities it uses through these bindings."

If you have e.g. a html file that is under a license that's not GPL 
compatible, You're still allowed to view it in konqueror, just like you are 
allowed to run a perl script that's not GPL compatible in perl. It's just 
viewed as processing data from the interpreter's POV. If this can stand in 
court, I don't know. The problem is that it's hard to tell where the line is 
crossed without asking a lawyer, or, even better, having a precedence case. 
Especially, programmers and lawyers tend to have different perspectives on 
something like this.

> The GPL is on very thin ice here and the FSF seems to know it, looking at
> how they can only guess about the legal answer to the question "1 or 2".

Everyone who messes with RMS is on thin ice, too, and that's the problem. I 
don't know how many answers of the FAQ are legally ok, and if noone else 
knows for sure, we should be careful at least.

More information about the kde-core-devel mailing list