Re: psql & readline & win32

From: Greg Stark <gsstark(at)mit(dot)edu>
To: Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>
Cc: Robert Treat <xzilla(at)users(dot)sourceforge(dot)net>, pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org, Andrew Dunstan <andrew(at)dunslane(dot)net>, Magnus Hagander <mha(at)sollentuna(dot)net>
Subject: Re: psql & readline & win32
Date: 2006-01-02 19:22:52
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Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us> writes:

> Robert Treat <xzilla(at)users(dot)sourceforge(dot)net> writes:
> > On Sunday 01 January 2006 18:51, Andrew Dunstan wrote:
> >> This has been debated ad nauseam in the past. The consensus, bar a few
> >> people with more advanced paranoia than I suffer from, is that we can ;-)
> > I don't think it is good practice to ship packaged software that is statically 
> > linked to a gpl library and then claim that your package is bsd licensed.
> Robert is 100% right.  

I suspect Andrew was mixing up two different aspects of this. 

There isn't much dispute that shipping a binary linked (statically or
dynamically) with a library depends on your license to distribute derivative
works of that library. Ie, that Andrew's wrong and shipping a binary linked
with a GPL'd library is only legal if you follow the terms of the GPL.

There is controversy over whether the software that requires that library
becomes a derivative work itself. For example whether a Gimp plugin that is
useless without the Gimp would be a derivative work of the Gimp itself and be
undistributable unless you followed the Gimp license terms. 

Most people do agree when the question is put for something like Gimp plugins
but seem to draw a distinction between that and things like Postgres that
happen to depend on linking with libreadline where libreadline is a rather
incidental part of the whole system.

In RMS's view (and the view of the actual practicing lawyers who have examined
this question when real money was on the line, but then I guess lawyers are
paid well to have more advanced cases of paranoia than Andrew) is that there's
no such distinction in law and having software that depends on libreadline is
just as much bound by the GPL as a Gimp plugin.

But that said, in the case of a binary there's really no controversy. A binary
that's linked against libreadline clearly can't be legally distributed without
following the terms of the GPL.


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