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From Ceki Gulcu <c...@qos.ch>
Subject Re: LGPL software behind an isolation layer
Date Thu, 27 Aug 2009 16:15:21 GMT


Ralph Goers wrote:

> So the question isn't whether the LGPL terms apply - they do - but 
> whether we choose to have them imposed on us by distributing the 
> software. We don't.

It is not at all an established fact (to me!) that the LGPL terms apply. In 
particular with respect to its 6th clause.

> There are two parts to the GPL and LGPL that you seem to be missing.
> 1. The LGPL and GPL clearly define a derivative work as anything that 
> uses the software. The main difference between the LGPL and GPL is that 
> the LGPL has an exception for derivative works that use the library.

What does "uses" the software mean? If A uses B which uses C, is A
using C?  Asked this way, the answer is, yes (by transitivity).
However, the 6th clause of LGPL is pretty nonsensical (which it
usually is anyway.)

If by using, one means has knowledge of as in linking or referencing,
then in the case of software behind an isolation layer, AP (apache
project) "knows/references" SLF4J, logback "knows/references" SLF4J
but AP does not "know/reference" logback. I guess you cannot claim
*not* to know/reference a given software if you also distribute it.

> 2. Distribution is the trigger. The conditions of the GPL and LGPL pose 
> no risk when an individual gets the software himself and then just uses 
> it. There are no conditions that they have to adhere to. However, they 
> do have certain rights - such as being able to obtain source code from 
> wherever they obtained the binaries. However, if that individual then 
> gives that software to their best friend the clauses in the GPL and LGPL 
> become relevant. The friend has all the same rights as the first person 
> and can require them to provide the same access to the source code that 
> the first individual has.

Indeed, distribution is the trigger, and regardless of the
distributor. So on Linux, all HTTPD distributions which uses APR which
uses glibc (on systems with glibc installed by default) are tainted by
LGPL, right? It just so happens that the ASF is not the distributor.
Which come to think of it, is fine.

Anyway, I wrote to the FSF asking for their legal opinion and intend
to report the results back here.

> Ralph

-- 
Ceki Gülcü
Logback: The reliable, generic, fast and flexible logging framework for Java.
http://logback.qos.ch

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