[techtalk] GPL Questions

Kelly Lynn Martin kelly at poverty.bloomington.in.us
Fri Nov 12 00:56:29 EST 1999

On Thu, 11 Nov 1999 09:50:09 -0600, Stephan Zaniolo <eaglefeather at mindspring.com> said:

>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.  

As far as I know, there is no legal merit to this contention.  You can 
at least license the source code under the GPL.  Java doesn't generate 
linked executables so there's no concern about distributing a derived
work containing GPL and non-GPL components.  Bytecompiling probably
does not commingle works -- compilation idioms are probably not
copyrightable on their own.

>I understand
>that the GPL has the "virus-like" quality that if any part of a GPLed
>program is used in another program, it must also be licensed under
>the GPL.

That's technically inaccurate.  If you derive a program from GPL code, 
then the derived program must, _if distributed_, be distributed
consistent with the GPL.  You don't _have_ to license it to anyone if
you don't want to. :)

The mere communication of one program with another is not sufficient
to constitute "combination" for the virus-like aspect of the GPL.

The foregoing is not legal advice.  For legal advice, please consult
an attorney.


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