[vlc-devel] Re: GPL issues ( was: Re: How can add a new codec module to VLC?)
sam at zoy.org
Fri May 21 10:40:48 CEST 2004
On Fri, May 21, 2004, Matthew Romaine wrote:
> 14:40 < gibalou> considering that only distribution is regulated by
> the GPL, can you actually have code that depends on a proprietary
> library as long as you don't distribute this library with the program ?
> 14:40 < thedj> yes
> 14:40 < sam> yes
> How important is the ending phrase "...with the program"?
Well spotted. This part of the sentence should actually be removed;
the aforementioned code cannot be distributed at all, whether with or
without the library. No matter how the bits are agenced and separated,
it is the initial purpose of the code which matters.
The KDE/Qt story and the various GPLed programs that used the
non-free XForms are examples of this situation. GPLed programs that
use Motif are counter-examples. This is simply because there exists a
library equivalent to Motif (called Lesstif) that is free; hence such
programs can be distributed with Lesstif but the user is free to use
I would have
> thought it to be unnecessary, otherwise someone might interpret the
> above to mean it was okay to write a demuxer and decoder wrapper (much
> like for faad) which would be distributed with the program, and then
> require users to go somewhere else to download a library. In other
> words, the above exchange might lead one to believe it was okay if
> library B was not distributed literally "with the program" A, but was
> still available somewhere else (albeit without source....)
> Perhaps I should clarify my stance here. Working for a Japanese
> company is not easy; convincing them of the benefits of open source is
> (ironically in some respects if you understand the culture) even harder
> :) Personally, I would like to make the decoder open source as I feel
> all parties involved would benefit.
> Thanks again for an enlightening discussion :)
> On 2004/05/20, at 22:15, Derk-Jan Hartman wrote:
> >On 20 mei 2004, at 13:37, Matthew Romaine wrote:
> >>On 2004/05/20, at 15:47, Gildas Bazin wrote:
> >>>Last advice, beware that VLC is released under the GPL license so
> >>>you might
> >>>have problems with linking to a proprietary library.
> >>Heh, I'm glad you brought this up. I haven't gotten around to
> >>consulting with lawyers yet, but my understanding is that the GPL
> >>doesn't really restrict linking to a proprietary library. I
> >>understand all modifications I make to the VLC code base -- including
> >>file parsing and function calls to the library, etc. -- will have to
> >>be released, but aside from the concern that people will know what
> >>the function names are inside the library, is there anything else
> >>that I should note? The GPL doesn't require that I also release the
> >>proprietary library, right? (i.e., my contributions for the time
> >>being may be unusable...)
> >Welcome to one of the great debates on the interpretation of the GPL
> >license. Above explanation is the one used by many. VideoLAN however
> >follows the GPL to the letter ( mplayer and Xine dont ) and the GPL
> >strictly forbids linking of GPL programs to proprietary, closed code,
> >unless they are part of the OS itself. A sigma proprietary library can
> >not be considered to be part of the OS and therefore a GPL'ed program
> >could not make use of it. This is how the GPL works in our reading of
> >it, and in our eyes mplayer, Xine and a lot of other projects violate
> >their own license...
> >As a show of some of the discussion this results in:
> >14:31 < thedj> mm, GPL and proprietary lib. issues. don't you just
> >love them?
> >14:31 < bigben_> well, I thought GPL was quite clear about it...
> >14:31 < thedj> actually it isn't
> >14:32 < thedj> it talks about derivative works. but it's hard to
> >define what that is.
> >14:32 < bigben_> so, let's at least tell him the way we understand
> >14:32 < thedj> for instance this section
> >14:32 < thedj> If
> >14:32 < thedj> identifiable sections of that work are not derived from
> >the Program,
> >14:32 < thedj> and can be reasonably considered independent and
> >separate works in
> >14:32 < thedj> themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not
> >apply to those
> >14:32 < thedj> sections when you distribute them as separate works.
> >14:33 < sam> well, a program that uses a given library can obviously
> >not be considered "independent"
> >14:34 < thedj> sam: but the two sourcecodes can be independently
> >distributed, as long as you don't compile them....
> >14:34 < thedj> rather a weird situation :)
> >14:34 < sam> thedj: this is circumvention
> >14:34 -!- Psycho[B]ud [~PsychoBud at h000102c59fbb.ne.client2.attbi.com]
> >has quit [Read error: 110 (Connection timed out)]
> >14:34 < thedj> no, it's what it says...
> >14:35 < sam> who, it?
> >14:35 < thedj> sam: GPL.
> >14:35 < sam> if program A uses library B, it is obviously derived from
> >B; you can easily prove that by stating that without B, A would not
> >14:35 < thedj> if the prop lib is written before the program, you
> >cannot call it a derivative work.
> >14:36 < Defaf> when is 0.7.2 coming out?
> >14:36 < sam> I am not stating that the library is a derivating work of
> >the program
> >14:36 < sam> I am stating that the program is a derivative work of the
> >14:36 < sam> s/ing/ive/
> >14:36 < thedj> true.
> >14:38 < thedj> still derivative is not a good description.
> >14:38 < sam> derivative is a legal term
> >14:38 < thedj> which will never hold up in court ....
> >14:38 < thedj> a 'user' would be more correct.
> >14:39 < sam> user does not mean anything
> >14:39 < sam> derivative has a legal meaning and it has been used again
> >and again in court; not related to the GPL though
> >14:40 < gibalou> considering that only distribution is regulated by
> >the GPL, can you actually have code that depends on a proprietary
> >library as long as you don't distribute this library with the program
> >14:40 < thedj> yes
> >14:40 < sam> yes
> >14:40 < thedj> by the letter of the GPL, i think you can
> >14:40 < thedj> actually you could even use it yourself.
> >14:41 < thedj> as long as you don't distribute
> >14:41 < gibalou> and users could install the library themself as long
> >as they know how do find/do it.
> >14:42 < thedj> derivative is incorrect naming. it implies being based
> >on. using as a basis, using as a source.
> >14:42 < gibalou> but I guess having instructions on how to do this
> >would not be legal
> >14:42 < thedj> VLC is not the based on a proprietary lib
> >14:42 < thedj> to derive actually means: "to trace the origin of
> >14:43 < sam> "derivative work" does not mean that
> >14:43 < gibalou> if you use a feature from a library then your code is
> >"based" on that feature.
> >14:43 < thedj> this is why derivative was a bad choice. it implies
> >14:43 < thedj> sam: yes it does. it means work based on another
> >original work
> >14:43 < sam> OR "contains parts of"
> >14:45 < sam> you can bypass any legalese by nitpicking ad absurdum;
> >however you can never bypass the author's will when there is a
> >misunderstanding about the meaning of a sentence in the GPL
> >14:46 < sam> thedj: when you add support for library B in program A,
> >you are creating a derivative work of both A and B; since the code
> >gets reinjected into A we keep calling it A, but in essence the
> >derivative work is not A, it is "A plus the addition of this
> >particular piece of code"
> >14:46 < thedj> i disagree.
> >14:46 < thedj> derivative work does not mean.. contains parts of.
> >14:46 < thedj> not according the dictionaries i have here...
> >14:47 < thedj> trough process of derivation
> >14:47 < thedj> by deriving something
> >14:47 < thedj> that's what is says here.
> >14:47 < sam> does it say anything about the legal meaning?
> >14:47 < thedj> and "to derive" is clearly defined with the words
> >origin of development.
> >14:47 < ozone> nothing quite like licensing arguments
> >14:47 < thedj> sam: no.14:47 < thedj> ozone: :)
> >14:48 < ozone> i think dynamically loading plugins is rather murky
> >14:48 < sam> thedj: I suggest you open *any* legal dictionary and look
> >into it
> >14:48 < sam> http://www.legal-definitions.com/derivative-work.htm14:48
> >< sam> http://www.legal-database.com/derivative-work.htm
> >14:48 < ozone> best to consult a lawyer to find out what to do ... and
> >until then, any debate is somewhat irrelevant
> >14:49 < sam> ozone: this has been discussed for ages by countless law
> >advisors for the FSF and other fundations
> >14:49 < sam> it works as designed
> >14:49 < gibalou> http://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=6366
> >14:50 < sam> the whole KDE fiasco is based exactly on that (and was
> >the reason for Qt becoming GPL)
> >14:50 < ozone> sam: for all countries?
> >14:51 < sam> ozone: no idea. but copyright law is rather homogeneic
> >accross countries
> >14:51 < thedj> sam: "derivative work" : For copyright purposes, a new
> >work based upon an original work to which enough original creative
> >work has been added so that the new work represents an original work
> >of authorship
> >14:52 < thedj> even the law dicts don't agree :)
> >14:52 < ozone> sam: i don't know enough about to say anything
> >14:52 < thedj> derivative work
> >14:52 < thedj> : a piece of intellectual property that substantially
> >derives from an underlying work
> >14:52 < sam> they still all agree on implying being based on
> >14:52 < ozone> but from internal legal counsel that i've heard at
> >work, they don't want to go near issues of dynamic loading
> >14:52 < thedj> yes based on, but not contain parts of.
> >14:52 < ozone> YMMV, as always
> >14:53 < sam> thedj: if it didn't contain parts of, it wouldn
> >14:53 < sam> 't be a derivative work
> >14:53 < thedj> and that latter definition was from webster dictionary
> >of law
> >14:53 < sam> I don't see your point
> >14:53 < thedj> based on != contains parts of
> >14:54 < ozone> anyhoo, have fun arguing guys :) -> bed for me!
> >14:54 < thedj> hehe
> >14:54 < sam> thedj: the latter implies the former; this is more than
> >enough for my point
> >14:55 < thedj> if something is based on something else, it by
> >defintion contains parts of.
> >14:55 < thedj> but if something contains a part of something its not
> >by definition based on that.
> >14:55 -!- Bond128 [~88d7fbb3 at krishna.via.ecp.fr] has joined #videolan
> >14:56 < thedj> i like these discussions :)
> >14:56 < sam> you got it mixed up
> >14:56 < sam> if something contains a part of something it is obviously
> >based on it!
> >14:56 < sam> unless they are sufficiently independent, which they
> >aren't here
> >14:57 < thedj> if my TV contains a button, then my TV is not based on
> >buttons. it's based on a katheder diode.
> >14:58 < sam> please restrict the discussion to software or at least IP
> >14:58 -!- xxcv [asdf at 203-213-81-61-syd-ts13-2600.tpgi.com.au] has quit
> >[Read error: 60 (Operation timed out)]
> >14:58 < sam> the conccept of a TV is based (amongst others) on the
> >concept of a katheder diode.
> >14:58 < sam> same for buttons
> >14:59 -!- Bond128 [~88d7fbb3 at krishna.via.ecp.fr] has quit [Client Quit]
> >15:00 < thedj> yet is your the concept of a TV anything less without a
> >button? would you say the concept of TV is derived from the concept of
> >15:02 < sam> without a button it would be a different TV
> >15:02 < thedj> you use buttons to control the TV, but does that make
> >the button a part of the concept of a TV.
> >15:02 < gibalou> maybe not the concept but surely part of the TV ;)
> >15:02 < sam> if you insist that a TV is not based on the concept of a
> >button, you need to call your TV that has buttons "a TV with buttons"
> >15:03 < gibalou> I guess we can say bye-bye to the atrac decoder ;)
> >15:03 < thedj> gibalou: derived from vs. part of :)
> >15:04 < thedj> sam: and i also buy a TV with teletext
> >15:04 < gibalou> personnaly I agree with sam. The GPL was designed to
> >keep the source code free.
> >15:04 < thedj> or even better a TV with color.
> >15:04 < gibalou> allowing the use of proprietary libaries would remove
> >a big part of that benefit.
> >15:04 < thedj> gibalou: i do to :)
> >15:05 < Defaf> when is 0.7.2 due?
> >15:05 < Defaf> i mean
> >15:05 < thedj> gibalou: still, from a legal point of view i think you
> >could actually make a reasonable case of it....
> >However as sam said:
> >you can bypass any legalese by nitpicking ad absurdum; however you can
> >never bypass the author's will when there is a misunderstanding about
> >the meaning of a sentence in the GPL.
> >And the opinion of the Authors of VideoLAN has always been very clear.
> >A completely Free and Open Source program in it's strictest meaning.
> >Universiteit Twente
> >Derk-Jan Hartman (d.hartman at student.utwente dot nl)
> >This is the vlc-devel mailing-list, see http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
> >To unsubscribe, please read http://developers.videolan.org/lists.html
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> Matthew M.I. Romaine
> IMNC Audio Codec Group
> Sony Corporation
> phone: 03-5448-6065
> fax: 03-5448-5617
> This is the vlc-devel mailing-list, see http://www.videolan.org/vlc/
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