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Posted Jul 30, 2010 0:03 UTC (Fri) by sfeam (subscriber, #2841)
Neither the GPL nor the LGPL attempts to restrict what a calling program is used for.
Posted Jul 30, 2010 0:14 UTC (Fri) by tzafrir (subscriber, #11501)
But hey, it's impossible for a library to impose usage restrictions, right?
Posted Jul 30, 2010 0:26 UTC (Fri) by sfeam (subscriber, #2841)
But the GPL explicitly does not do this. Clause 0 says:
Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not
covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of
running the Program is not restricted, [...]
Posted Jul 30, 2010 0:13 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954)
So a library can't have any licensing restrictions as to what the code that uses it will do?
I can't tell how that question relates to the post you replied to. Does it have something to do with the definition of derivative works? Or the purpose of copyright?
Taking the question by itself, though: I think it's possible to craft a copyright license for a library so people are restricted in how code they runs uses the library (to the extent you have to copy the library in order to use it, because you need permission from the author to copy it). It's not easy, since a condition on a copyright license must be met before the copying happens, but I think it's been done successfully.
Posted Jul 30, 2010 6:40 UTC (Fri) by butlerm (subscriber, #13312)
A library certainly can, under certain conditions. Notably a binding contract between the library developer and the end user. Forming that contract is a bit of a trick.
If you download a typical open source library from a web site somewhere, you typically have not clicked on a license agreement. If the web site provides you a legal copy of the software without requiring you to enter into a specific agreement, you now own that copy, and you are not bound by any use license.
The only reason why anyone actually needs to comply with the GPL is so that he/she can legally redistribute modified versions of the software. That requires a license because to do otherwise would violate the copyright of the original authors. No such license is required to use software in any manner that doesn't break copyright (or possibly patent) law, unless the software developer/distributors require you to enter into a licensing agreement before transferring a copy of the software to you.
Shrink wrap licenses are in legal limbo in many areas precisely because this does not happen at the point of purchase. A retail end user now _owns_ a copy of the software, and the First Sale doctrine means that the ability of the software developers to regulate further use has ceased, unless a shrinkwrap licensing agreement is counted as a valid contract between the end user and the original copyright holder no consideration.
If you _own_ a copy of software, or a book, or a CD, what legal principle requires you to enter into a further contract that takes away rights you already have by virtue of that ownership. That is the whole point of the First Sale doctrine, first established by the Supreme Court in 1908, and enshrined into statute in 1978. The software industry wants to take all that away with the pretense that opening shrinkwrap (or clicking yes on a post sale license agreement) constitutes entering into a valid contract. Where's the consideration?
The case for a typical open source license is worse. Where is the contract? A license is not a contract. A legitimate "license agreement" is a contract. A "license" grants you permission to do things you do not already have the right to do. It cannot take away rights you already have, which is why "use license" is an oxymoron.
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