Calling GPL code from a Python application

Mike Meyer mwm at
Wed Jan 4 01:59:34 EST 2006

Terry Hancock <hancock at> writes:
> On Tue, 03 Jan 2006 20:48:12 -0500
> It is interesting to note that the FSF holds the position
> that the language that "gives you this right" *doesn't* --
> it just clarifies the fact that you already hold that right,
> because it is provided by "fair use".  Their position is
> that it is not possible to restrict the *use* of software
> you have legally acquired, because copyright only controls
> copying.

I believe there is precedent that contradicts the FSF's
position. There are two arguments against it:

1) Executing software involves several copy operations. Each of those
   potentially violate the copyright, and hence the copyright holder
   can restrict execution of a program.

2) Executing a program is analogous to a performance of the software.
   Copyright includes limits on performances, so the copyright holder
   can place limits on the execution of the software.

Personally, I agree with the FSF - if own a copy of a program,
executing it should be fair use. Without that, then there's no point
in obtaining software - you have to get the copyright holders
permission to execute the stuff anyway.

While I'm here, I'll point out the the "address space" argument is
specious. What if I bundle a standalone GPL'ed application with my own
application, and distribute binaries for a machine that has a shared
address space? By that criteria, I'd have to GPL my code for the
distribution for the shared address space machine, but not for a Unix
system. I'm not buying that.

Mike Meyer <mwm at>
Independent WWW/Perforce/FreeBSD/Unix consultant, email for more information.

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