Gerhard Fuernkranz wrote:
But I'm wondering, whether this is really helpful in order to strictly enforce a GPL compatible license for the UI? Wouldn't it always be possible to bypass this by arranging the distribution in a way, such that the UI is distributed as a separate product (which needs to be ordered separately, and which is possibly distributed on a separate medium, if two separate directories on the same medium are not considered as sufficiently separated, or even shipped with separate mail, ...), so that it will be eventually the _end user_, who forms the collection by installing both independently acquired products on his PC? And the end user is not bound to the GPL, he can do anything he likes with GPL-licensed software, as long he doesn't distribute it.
Yes, I think that there is a general agreement that this is a "loophole", and is how ATI and N-Vidia supply their closed source video drivers, but I would guess that it not so clear cut if both pieces come from the same supplier, and the presentation and arrangement of the piece is such that it is reasonable to conclude that they are intended to be part of a single thing (a compilation/collection). If one part is obviously designed to depend on another for its operation, or the whole depends for its features on the features of the components, then I think it is clear that the parts have been carefully selected and arranged, this being a characteristic of a collective work. I could imagine a court taking the view that merely supplying on separate media doesn't have much bearing on the collective work characteristic (ie. consider the analogy of an book anthology, delivered in separate volumes).
Now of course if the same party does not supply the GPL component, then the GNU licence cannot possibly have any say over the distribution of the non-GNU component by that party. I think this is why the ATI and N-Vidia drivers always have to be downloaded from the manufacturers web site, and are not provided with various Linux distributions (as well as the manufacturers own licence conditions of course). It is possible I'm mistaken about the details of this though.
There was some controversy recently raised by the free software side, when a Linux distribution attempted to distribute the ATI and N-Vidia drivers with the Linux distribution.