For many years now, I’ve taken it as an article of faith that the GPL’s authors have been on firm ground when discussing the relationship of derived work, a legal concept, and of libraries, a software modularity concept.

Briefly, the FSF and many others interpret the GPL to mean that pulling a software library into a program means crossing the boundary of “derivedness”, so as to automatically make the program a “derived work” of the library … or vice versa. This is the reason that the FSF puts the GPL on much of its library-style software: to force applications to also be licensed under the GPL and thus become free software.

What’s new is a recent article in LinuxWorld (part 2, part 3). Its focus is on binary (or non-GPL) kernel modules for Linux, a somewhat murky area. The article argues that they are probably legal, because the notion of copyright infringement is different than most believe. The farther one reads the article, the clearer the implication that the popular layman’s inference of “static linkage => derived work => GPL infection” actually breaks at the first step.

If indeed courts are tending to consider as “derived works” in the copyright case law sense more and more tightly defined relationships rather than broadening them, focusing more on copying rather than dependency and especially “necessity”, then the whole GPL infection business is overblown. Rather than the FSF line (“doesn’t matter whether you link this GPL library dynamically or statically – you still have to GPL the application”), it may be the opposite (“doesn’t matter how you link … it still doesn’t force anything on the rest of the application.”)

There must be a simple retort to this interpretation. What is it?

Posted Thu Jan 4 13:07:00 2007 Tags:

Oh my god – I don’t know what’s funnier:

  • the songun blog is a satire, and has smuggled out DPRK-internal propaganda videos
  • the songun blog is real and is officially posting DPRK propaganda videos

Please sit down securely and consume all beverages completely before following this link.

Posted Sat Jan 13 17:17:00 2007 Tags:

Note to self. When your computer starts behaving weirdly – hanging at the slightest provocation, screen flickering artifacts when it’s busy, check for the health of your power supply. One of mine started dying, and I blamed the failures on the video card, instead of the real culprit. Just two years young, one more ATX power supply bites the dust.

Posted Sun Jan 21 16:07:00 2007 Tags:

Hugo Chavez has officially been elected dictator in Venezuela. Chin up though – while Hitler got started in much the same way, Chavez is unlikely to fill the destructive britches of that older dead megalomaniac.

Posted Sun Jan 21 21:17:00 2007 Tags:

Among the many lefty people of my generation, at least two tasty little media attitudes appear popular.

These are:

  • that insinuations that the “mainstream media” are leftward biased are totally unjustified

At one point, a crack of doubt must appear in item #1, considering the strength of belief in #2. After all, if it’s possible that some MSM organ is biased (in a direction one dislikes), then surely it’s possible that other MSM organs are biased too (in less objectionable directions).

This crack of doubt must, in any reasonably detached intellect, be widened to a canyon miles wide when seeing one popular TV opinionator rage thusly about another. In a way, the “lady doth protest too much” phenomenon applies: criticizing your competitors for bias reminds your own fans of the possibility that you’re biased too. Well done!

Posted Wed Jan 24 10:44:00 2007 Tags:

secretist: (n) one who secretes secrets
with thanks to colleague David Lloyd

Posted Fri Jan 26 20:29:00 2007 Tags: