[haiku-development] Re: INPUT / VOTE : --include-gpl-addons

  • From: Ingo Weinhold <ingo_weinhold@xxxxxx>
  • To: haiku-development@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 19 Aug 2009 22:38:59 +0200

On 2009-08-19 at 19:16:32 [+0200], Bruno Albuquerque <bga@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> 
> Urias McCullough wrote:
> > Just to add to my existing understanding and provide a pro-GPL
> > viewpoint into this discussion, those who wrote the AC3 decoder might
> > suggest that Haiku's media kit would not be as good, or have as many
> > features if it was distributed without their code, thus, by
> > distributing the media kit with their code, they might insist that the
> > media kit is a "derivative" of their code. I realize that loadable
> > modules make this entire discussion *very* fuzzy, but the argument can
> > go either way. It will ultimately come down to interpretation and what
> > the original copyright authors feel is right.
> Except that they could do absolutely nothing if Haiku was closed source
> and someone created the add-on by using only the headers available (i.e.
> no one would be able to ask that Haiku or anything else other than the
> add-on itself would be licensed under the GPL). If you think about it,
> the fact that we make the package available with the base distribution
> is a technicality. We could as well put the package somewhere for
> download and make it be automatically downloaded after installation and
> this, also, would not result in needing to license Haiku under the GPL.

I'm not a lawyer either, but I'm pretty sure you're applying the license 
logic reversely. The question is not how the add-on is distributed or 
whether it would force some Haiku component to become GPL (which doesn't 
work that way around anyway), the question is whether the add-on is allowed 
to use the GPLed code/library. The GPL is the only thing that grants you 
the right to use the covered code. If you can't comply with the license 
terms, you can't use the code. That simple. Particularly that also means 
you can't use a GPLed library to write an add-on for a closed source 
application (unless you're the application author and also publish it under 
the GPL, of course). I'm not sure at which point the GPL would be violated 
-- when publishing the add-on's source, a linked binary, or when using the 
binary -- but that doesn't matter anyway.

The reason that e.g. a GPLed file system was possible for the BeOS kernel 
is that the GPL has an explicit exception for "major operation system 
components". The situation for media codecs is somewhat tricky. No idea 
whether the exception applies there too. Possibly not.

The MIT license is said to be GPL-compatible. AFAICT that mainly means that 
it is OK with 2. b) of the GPL v2, i.e. it allows a work combined from MIT 
licensed and GPLed work to be distributed under the GPL. What that means in 
the case of our media codecs -- no idea.

CU, Ingo

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