[techtalk] GPL Questions

Kelly Lynn Martin kelly at poverty.bloomington.in.us
Fri Nov 12 01:04:13 EST 1999

On Thu, 11 Nov 1999 20:00:43 -0600, Stephan Zaniolo <eaglefeather at mindspring.com> said:

>	I read through the GPL and at the end it says that GPLed
>programs are not allowed to be incorporated into proprietary systems.

This is a misstatement, in my opinion.

What you cannot do is license a GPL program under any license other
than the GPL.  You CAN use a GPL program in conjunction with a
non-GPL program -- Chalice (a film effects editor) does this with the
Gimp -- as long as the usage does not constitute "linking".

>I was planning on publishing an API for this system that others could
>use in proprietary software.  (Note: no code from the system
>would/should be used in the proprietary system, just method/function
>calls) Is this in violation of the GPL?

You cannot violate the GPL with respect to your own code because you
don't need a license to use your own code (it belongs to you, after
all).  You are free to release the same code under two different
licenses if you want, letting people pick which license they want --
even if the licenses are incompatible with each other.  The GPL _does
not bind in any way_ the first author of code released under it.

>	My next (and hopefully last) question, did I read it
>correctly?  Do I actually not NEED to involve lawyer(s) in this
>process (but I could just to cover my arse)?  Is everything I have to
>do at the end of the GPL (including copywriting the code)?  (yes,
>this is the first time I've considered copywriting/licensing any
>software I've ever worked on.  I'm still in college.)

Technically, everything you've ever written it copyrighted (not
"copywrited" by the way), and, if you gave copies of it to other
people, licensed as well.  Copyright is inherent in all authorship,
and when you distribute software you almost always give at least an
implicit license to use.

Again, this is not legal advice; for legal advice consult an attorney.


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