Use of GPLed Python extension modules

Daniel Berlin dberlin at
Sun Nov 23 19:32:17 CET 2003

On Nov 23, 2003, at 11:04 AM, Patrick Maupin wrote:

> Daniel Berlin wrote
>> On Nov 22, 2003, at 5:33 PM, Rainer Deyke wrote:
>> ...
>>> Either you are misinterpreting the FSF, or the FSF is wrong.
>> Sigh.
>> Can't we simply leave legal questions to lawyers and judges?
> Sure.  That's what democracy is all about :)
> Or the less flippant answer is:  there are several areas of the
> law in which laymen can have a legitimate interest and something
> to say.  This is true about any subject.
>> The FSF is entitled to their view, and one could argue it and expect
>> some chance of success.
> Yes, where "some chance" is an extremely small number.
>> One could argue the other way, and expect some chance of sucess.
>> This is because there simply is no settled law, precedent, etc,
>> on the subject.
> Repeating this mantra, as you and several others on this thread
> have done, simply does not make it true.  Like most canards, this
> has a kernel of truth, namely that the FSF itself has not been
> in litigation over this issue.  But if you think that this issue
> has never been litigated, you have not boiled it down to its
> most basic elements and then looked for case law.

Actually, I have.
On both Lexis, and Westlaw.
Sorry, no caselaw.

> As I understand it, the abstract version of the case would boil
> down to this:
> - A company notices that program A is a useful tool for other
>   programs to use, and produces program B, which contains no
>   code from program A, but which invokes and uses program A
>   at runtime.
> - When this company distributes program B, the makers of program
>   A sue the company for copyright violation.  (They do not sue
>   the users who actually combine the two programs together, because
>   a) those users probably have a license to do this, and b)
>   that would be bad for business.)
> This issue has come up repeatedly and has been litigated extensively,

Cases and citations please.

> by companies with big budgets and good lawyers.  I do not personally
> know of any cases where the producer of program A has prevailed (absent
> literal copying of program A), but I _do_ know of more than one case
> where the maker of program B has prevailed (see Sega vs. Accolade for
> a start).  Note that in these cases, the producer of program B
> has usually copied program A in the process of reverse-engineering
> it (which would not even need to happen to use a GPLed program),
> and this copying has been ruled to be fair use.

> I didn't even take copyright law, and I'm sure that either a) you are
> deliberately being unreasonably pedantic,


> or b) you are exceedingly
> dense.  If you were to read the OP in the full context of the thread,
> you would find that what he was really saying was that if party X
> generates a pile of new code all by himself, the fact that the FSF
> has some OTHER copyrighted code (and in the context, I'm sure the OP
> means either owns or somehow controls this other code) does not
> give the FSF any right to restrict what party X does with his own
> code,

It may or may not.
It depends on the code.  If it's the same code as the copyrighted code, 
they would have such a right.

>  so party X is free to give his own code to whomever he cares
> to, under whatever terms he chooses (but under some circumstances,
> party X can certainly be enjoined from distributing the FSF's own code
> alongside party X's own code).  This is true EVEN IF party X's code
> has the ability to make use of the FSF's code.   In my opinion, the
> OP made this point clearly and succinctly, and I'm sure that everybody
> except you understood him perfectly.

Blah blah. More personal attacks for no reason.

>> In addition, DMCA grants them the right to prevent distribution of
>> certain other types of code (code that circumvents effective access
>> controls).
> Umm, yeah.  I'm thinking real hard here to try to come up with a
> license that is _less_ compatible with DMCA-style "access controls"
> than the GPL.  I'm drawing a blank here.  Can anyone help me out?
> (Hint:  The GPL is the "anti-DMCA".  Only use it on code you want
> to insure is available to anybody, at any time, in any place.)

More of you being an ass for no reason.

>>> Whether the code may be linked to GPL code at runtime
>>> or not is irrelevant.
>> This may or may not be true.
>> Stating your opinion as fact is not helping.
> Yes, I find your deliberate misunderstanding of the OP _so_ much
> more helpful.  Throwing in that DMCA red herring was a nice touch
> as well.
> Pat
> -- 

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