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Re: [jfw] Re: LGPL





On Wednesday, March 12, 2014 10:29:01 PM UTC-4, Andrew Eddie wrote:
On 13 March 2014 12:00, garyamort <> wrote:
> So how does the above apply to a PHP library?  Well, unless the PHP library
> is distributed as compiled code[for example, the Phalcon PHP Framework],
> none of it applies.  A PHP program is not compiled, it is distributed as
> source code.

The advice we have previously received from the SFLC is that they
consider the issue of licensing in terms of what code is running in
memory regardless of how "it got compiled". They don't make a
distinction between you using GCC to compile a native binary, or an
Apache server module converting it to machine instructions on the fly
for each page load. So my understanding is when the GPL code gets
mixed with the rest of the code stack in memory, it's going to want
every other byte of code to be GPL as well.

If we one day get a legal ruling to say that, for the likes of PHP,
GPL code does not infect the rest of the application our little
Framework is going to be the least of anyone's worries. The fallout of
that decision would be catastrophic to the GPL world view.


 You will never get that legal ruling because their lawyers know that they won't get such a ruling and therefore do not pursue such cases. :-)  If this was the case, they would have shut down Linux years ago.

Linux[the actual Linux source code] is distributed with drivers as "binary blobs" - mostly with video drivers - these are compiled bits of code where the company providing them has not and will not release the source code for them.  Instead, what they have done is released a linux driver stub which maps the linux function calls to function calls in the binary blob.

When it "runs" it is "running in memory".

You may have been given a lawyers opinion, but that opinion is nothing more then a guess at how a judge might rule on the matter.  If that lawyer happens to be employed by a client who desires a specific interpretation, then the lawyer is legally bound to pretend the client is correct and will provide as many legal opinions as their client wants to pay for saying the client is correct.

Despite all these "cut and dried" legal opinions you will not find one single legal ruling supporting the position.  Personally, I don't believe that is an oversight, I think it is a deliberate choice.  As long as there is never a case to trial, people can claim anything they want without there being any contradiction. Show me one case that has actually been ruled on and I will retract my statement.  :-)

Short of a magic PHP Code fairy that can magically make PHP code be treated differently under the law then all other programming languages I simply do not buy it.

That's not to say a business does not have a valid business case to avoid GPL code.   Since this issue has never been settled in a court of law, if someone was to bring a lawsuit against the business - the business would have to  pay legal fees to defend itself.   If there are no rulings which make it clear cut, then the lawsuit can't be classified as a "nuisance" suite so the business can't recover legal costs from the group that sued them.   But this doesn't have anything to do with how the courts would actually rule.

Oh, and in case it's not obvious, my own belief is also a religious opinion.  IE this is how I think the courts would rule, but there is no case to back me up either.  I simply take on faith that based on the number of victorious lawsuits that have been processed based on the GPL, and based on how upset many developers are over binary blobs which may contain security bugs[and in at least one proven instance, HAVE contained a hidden security bug for years] - if there was any way to force the issue legally it would already have happened.

It should also be noted that this is a complete 180 from their opinion in the 1990's.  Back then when Microsoft added a clause to the license for using their C++ compiler that said you could not use it to compile GPL code[since when it compiled programs it would link them to a number of Microsoft libraries] GPL supporters were extremely adament that the GPL only applies to the actual code that was written and copyrighted by the programmer - not to any libraries they might use.   GPL proponents produced many lawyers legal opinions about how the GPL could never affect libraries compiled into programs - so you really have to take "statements of fact" with a big grain of salt.

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