Re: [R] How can you buy R?

From: Duncan Murdoch <murdoch_at_stats.uwo.ca>
Date: Mon 22 May 2006 - 22:04:12 EST

On 5/22/2006 3:55 AM, Berwin A Turlach wrote:
> G'day Deepayan,
>

>>>>>> "DS" == Deepayan Sarkar <deepayan.sarkar@gmail.com> writes:

>
> DS> let me first summarize this sub-discussion so far: [...]
> Sound like a perfect summary. :)
>
> DS> As far as I can tell (and please correct me if I'm wrong),
> DS> your contention is that by linking a GPL component P with a
> DS> non-GPL component Q, a user may lose the rights granted to him
> DS> by the GPL to the GPL-d part P.
> I don't think that I said this explicitly, but I can see how what I
> said can be interpreted in such a way. The point is rather that at
> the moment component P and Q are linked (and I perhaps carelessly
> assumed that the user was doing this) a product is produced that
> should be completely under the GPL. Obviously it is not. Hence, the
> status of this linked product, and whether it can be used by anybody,
> is an open question. And the answer is probably given by the
> copyright laws (and others?) of the country in the linking happens.
>
>
> DS> Let's assume this is true. All that means is that the user has
> DS> lost his rights to "copy, modify and redistribute" P. He does
> DS> NOT lose the rights to use P.
> I agree with you on this. Probably I was to terse in my writing and
> produced misunderstandings. I never intended to say something about
> the rights that the user has with regards to P alone. My comments
> were directed towards the linked product P+Q. In particular, it is
> not clear to me whether one can execute such a product without
> violating copyright laws.

The GPL is quite explicit on this: as Deepayan said, it confers rights to copy, modify and redistribute P. "Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not covered by this License; they are outside its scope."

This probably varies from country to country, but I think the assumption is that if you have a legally acquired copy of a program, you have a right to execute it as you like. (The American DMCA and laws in other countries that implement the WIPO anti-circumvention rules limit you in specific ways, but they probably don't apply to the situation we're talking about.)

Now, I suppose you might argue that executing P+Q makes a copy of it in memory, but I think countries that have modernized their copyright laws recognize that this is something you have a right to do with a legally acquired copy. You don't need the GPL to give you permission to do this. That's certainly true in the US and Canada. Your country may vary.

Duncan Murdoch

>
> Thus, the last sentence of mine that you quoted:
>
> My understanding was that in that moment a product was
> created that would have to be wholly under the GPL, so the
> user was violating the GPL and lost the write to use your
> package.
>
> Should perhaps better be formulated as:
>
> My understanding was that in that moment a product was
> created that would have to be wholly under the GPL, so the
> person who did the linking was violating the GPL and it is
> not clear whether anyone is allowed to use the linked product.
>
> >> A simple google search would have confirmed to you that the
> >> linux kernel is developed under the GPL. [...]
> DS> Linux is under GPL2, and not "GPL2 or later". [...]
> Oh, I wasn't aware that they did not use the typical(?) "or later"
> phrase. Thanks for pointing this out and I note that we both agree
> that the linux kernel is definitely not under LGPL.
>
> DS> In any case, this is the complete opposite of the situation we
> DS> were originally discussing: [...]
> >> [...] So I have to wonder to what you are referring to as "the
> >> situation we were originally discussing".
>
> DS> I was referring to your question (quoted above) about use of
> DS> GPL'd code in S-PLUS, which is what I was replying to. As I
> DS> was saying, that situation is the opposite of the one in your
> DS> example.
> O.k., sorry, I used a different scale with the time point of origin at
> Spencer's e-mail and my answer to that mail. Now I am with you.
>
> Agreed, the situation is the opposite, but that was the example
> discussed in gnu.misc.discuss. From an abstract point of view the
> situations are the same. You make someone else link a GPL product
> with a non-GPL product creating a derived work, the derived work would
> have to be under the GPL but is not. Hence, the derived work has a
> legal status that is in limbo and it is not clear whether anyone has
> to right to use it.
>
> The discussions on gnu.misc.discuss were centred on cases were people
> provided non-GPL binaries, asked their users to download GPL software
> from elsewhere, compile and link everything together and then use the
> combined product.
>
> As you say it is the exact opposite (and hence mirror image) from the
> situation that I was worried about, where I provide GPL software and
> ask others to compile and link it with non-GPL binaries and then use
> the combined product.
>
> If one scenario is not on, I don't see how the other one could be
> acceptable either. Except that in the first scenario there is a clear
> intend of circumventing the GPL. But I was not sure whether such kind
> of intent makes any difference. Thus, to avoid all these problems I
> decided to rather use the LGPL since that licence definitely seemed to
> allow both.

>
> Hope this clarifies some of my comments.
>
> Cheers,
>
> Berwin
>
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