[sword-devel] Question about Public Domain

Jonathan Morgan jonmmorgan at gmail.com
Tue Mar 17 22:40:09 MST 2009

On Wed, Mar 18, 2009 at 1:49 PM, Chris Little <chrislit at crosswire.org> wrote:
> Jonathan Morgan wrote:
>> It is not backward, it is a pure statement of facts, which you can
>> find quite clearly in the GPL v2 FAQ
>> <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/gpl-2.0-faq.html#GPLModuleLicense>.
> You need to look at the question immediately following the one you link.
> I'll quote:
> Q: If a library is released under the GPL (not the LGPL), does that mean
> that any program which uses it has to be under the GPL?
> A: Yes, because the program as it is actually run includes the library.
> That couldn't be any more clear. Putting it into concrete terms, Sword is a
> library. Sword is under the GPL. And front end to Sword is a "program which
> uses it". Thus, any front end to Sword must be under the GPL.

It couldn't be any clearer, no.  But you are also misapplying it.  It
says that it has to be under the GPL.  It does not say that it has to
be *only* under the GPL, which is how I read you saying.

>> If I can add a module to a library (or a "plugin" for that matter)
>> which is not GPL licensed but GPL compatible, of course I can create
>> an entire frontend that is GPL compatible but not GPL licensed.
> You may add a module to a library that is GPL compatible, but not GPL
> licensed, to a GPL work. But the reverse is not permissible: You may not add
> a GPL work to a non GPL (be it GPL compatible or not) work. That's simply
> not permitted by the license.
>> Fundamentally, the GPL cannot require you to do anything more than are
>> in its terms of license, which is that changes are distributed in
>> accordance with the license.  You have complete and sole ownership of
>> those changes or of that "derivative work", but if you distribute it
>> they must be distributed in a way that satisfies the terms of the GPL.
> No, you have complete and sole ownership of those changes *only*. The
> complete, derivative work is owned jointly between you and the author of the
> original work from which yours is a derivative. For information about
> derivative works (including definitions, rights, & limitations) you'll want
> to consult the Copyright Act (US Code Title 17). This pertains since the GPL
> is couched in terms of copyright.

Precisely, but not relevant.  I can still release those changes under
any license I choose.  The fact that no-one else can use them by
themself is a mere detail - should anyone choose to take my code,
licensed in any way I choose and remove the Sword dependency they are
welcome to.

The reason why this becomes a problem is because you choose to attack
people or state that they are doing the wrong thing by using more
permissive licensing with their code than Sword uses.


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