[techtalk] GPL Questions

jenn at simegen.com jenn at simegen.com
Fri Nov 12 03:51:38 EST 1999

Stephan Zaniolo wrote:
> I'm interested in licensing
> these under the terms of the GPL, but I remember hearing somewhere that
> Java is not a "free" language and therefore can't be licensed under the
> GPL.  First, why is Java not a "free" language?  Can it be licensed under
> the GPL?  

The GPL *basically* says:

	'I warrant that this code was written by me and I'm willing to 
let other people use it for free so long as they ALSO let other people
use it for free'

It's kind of dressed up in legalese, and this is *MY* understanding and 
thus not a legal thing and yadda yadda yadda insert standard disclaimer 

Subsections of the GPL let you use other GPL'd programs to form your
GPL - so it becomes 'I warrant that this code was written by me or 
taken from other GPL stuff'. It kind of gets recursive.

Java-the-language /could/ be licenced under the GPL, except that Sun 
(who owns it) didn't want it to be. Not very surprising - Sun is a 
company, and wants money. Therefore, Java-per-se is not free because
it didn't get GPLed.

Code /written/ in Java, however, is /your/ code. So what you can do
is licence the /code/ - ie, your contribution is GPL. It still relies
on a non-GPL thing (the Java interpreter), but your part is GPL.

It's the same with the commercial database - you can't distribute the
Java interpreter or the database, legally. Only your code. So using
commercial stuff limits the number of users to people who have access
to the commercial aspects.

I hope this clarifies it a bit.

Jenn V.
  Humans are the only species to feed and house entirely separate species 
     for no reason other than the pleasure of their company. Why?

jenn at simegen.com        Jenn Vesperman        http://www.simegen.com/~jenn/

techtalk at linuxchix.org   http://www.linuxchix.org

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