Calling GPL code from a Python application

Mike Meyer mwm at
Wed Jan 4 12:53:03 EST 2006

Peter Hansen <peter at> writes:
> Mike Meyer wrote:
>> I believe there is precedent that contradicts the FSF's
>> position. There are two arguments against it:
>> ...
>> 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.
> Executing a program on my own computer, for my own use (i.e. without
> someone else sitting down and using the mouse and keyboard etc), is no
> more a "performance" than is my reading a copy of a book that I
> purchased.  My reading that book aloud in front of a room full of
> people (or even to one other person) is a performance.

You're looking at the difference betweenn a public performance vs. a
private performance. One copyright limits, the other it
doesn't. Someone has already pointed out that there's an explicit
clause in the us copyright law for executing programs, so that may not
apply in this case.

>  So is putting that program behind a web server and letting others
> execute it.

That's pretty clearly a public performance. One has to wonder whether
or not the exemption for program execution would apply to such? Of
course, in cases where it matters (i.e. - I provide public access to
my legally purchased copy of the Brittanica, or some such), copyrights
on things other than the program come into play. Possibly multiple


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

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