[Tutor] Regarding licensing GPL terms

Terry Carroll carroll at tjc.com
Thu Feb 1 02:53:08 CET 2007

On Wed, 31 Jan 2007, Anup Rao wrote:

> Hi,
> I am writing an application that uses a python libary  (a *.so file) 
> generated using SWIG.
> This library  makes direct system calls to the Linux kernel. 

The Linux kernel is not actually licensed under the standard GPL.  The 
copy of the GPL Linus releases it under includes the following very 
important modification:

   NOTE! This copyright does *not* cover user programs that use kernel
   services by normal system calls - this is merely considered normal use
   of the kernel, and does *not* fall under the heading of "derived work".

(There's a little more, but none relevant to your question.)

This means that your program is not, solely by virtue of making these 
calls, a derived work, subject to the GPL inheritance (a more neutral word 
than "virus").

> This raises three questions.

As I read it, the answers are:
> a> Does this mean that the library must be distributed under GPL terms?

No.  You can distribute it under any license you like, unrestricted by the 

> b> Can I distribute it as LGPL?

Yes.  You can distribute it under any license you like, unrestricted by
the GPL.

(I'll skip on the PSF-license question, because I haven't read it in a 

Now, the standard disclaimer: Yes, I am a lawyer, but I'm not your lawyer, 
so don't take this as definitive legal advice.  If this is a critical 
issue for you on which you have substantial money riding, get a lawyer who 
will grille you for all possible material facts that could perhaps result 
in a different answer.

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