Posted Feb 19, 2008 13:45 UTC (Tue) by flewellyn
In reply to: Parasitism
Parent article: Reverse engineering: more than NVIDIA deserves?
Xoddam seems a bit confused. I think I understand the source of the confusion, though. One of the most prominent free software projects, the Linux kernel, explicitly states that the boundary between "derived work" and "mere aggregation" for the kernel is at the system call boundary (and presumably the /proc and /sys filesystem interfaces as well). Any user-space program that uses the system calls is not bound by the kernel's GPLv2 license, but kernel modules and other code which interact with internal kernel interfaces is operating inside the kernel's "license domain", if you will.
The same does not necessarily hold true for other projects, though! If the license for a particular user-space library is GPL, or some equivalent copyleft license, you must abide by that license's terms if you link it to your code. This isn't the case for libraries that are LGPL, or under a non-copyleft permissive license like the BSD or X11 licenses. So you can write programs that link to GLIBC without having to make them GPL, and of course you can write X programs under any license too.
But the idea that all free software allows you to build "on top" of it without license concerns is not even wrong; it's too vague to be evaluated.
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