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Re: URL to note about GNU/Alladin license issue?

From: L. Peter Deutsch <ghost_at_aladdin.com>
Date: 2000-10-18 22:24:35 CEST

> You've mentioned a couple of times the issue you've had with Stallman
> about whether you could tell people they could use a specific GPL
> component (was it readline?) with Aladdin Ghostscript (thus you had to
> remove it); I keep forgetting to save it. Got it handy? It's come up
> again on another forum...

I haven't saved the e-mail in any place I can find it, but I can quote you
the material from the Ghostscript documentation on this subject.

<p>
AFPL Ghostscript does not include an interface to GNU readline. A user
contributed code for this purpose, which we spent significant time debugging
and then updating to track internal architectural changes in Ghostscript.
The contributor was willing to assign the copyright to Aladdin Enterprises,
and to allow the code to be distributed with the Aladdin Free Public License
(AFPL) as well as the GNU License (GPL). However, even though the GPL
allows linking GPLed code (such as the GNU readline library package) with
non-GPLed code (such as all the rest of AFPL Ghostscript) if one doesn't
distribute the result, the Free Software Foundation, creators of the GPL,
have told us that in their opinion, the GPL forbids distributing non-GPLed
code that is merely <em>intended</em> to be linked with GPLed code. We
understand that FSF takes this position in order to prevent the construction
of software that is partly GPLed and partly not GPLed, even though the
text of the GPL does not actually forbid this (it only forbids
<em>distribution</em> of such software). We think that FSF's position is
legally questionable and not in the best interest of users, but we do not
have the resources to challenge it, especially since FSF's attorney
apparently supports it. Therefore, even though we added the
user-contributed interface to GNU readline in internal Aladdin Ghostscript
version 5.71 and had it working in version 5.93 (one of the last beta
versions before the 6.0 release), we removed it from the Aladdin Ghostscript
6.0 distribution.

<p>
GNU Ghostscript distributions will include support for GNU readline. As
with other GNU Ghostscript components that are not included in AFPL
Ghostscript, Aladdin will not attempt to run, link, or even compile this
code, or keep it current across changes in the rest of Ghostscript. We
will, however, welcome bug fixes or updates, and distribute them with
subsequent releases of GNU Ghostscript.

<p>
The first GNU Ghostscript distribution that will include GNU readline
support will be GNU Ghostscript 6.0, currently scheduled for release in the
third quarter of 2000. Before that time, we may return the copyright of
Ghostscript's GNU readline interface module, which the original author
assigned to Aladdin Enterprises, to the author, so that users of GNU
Ghostscript will have have access to it. However, since it requires
internal changes not available in any released GNU Ghostscript version
before 6.0, any user who gets this code and links it with Aladdin
Ghostscript 6.0 will, according to FSF, be violating the intent (though not
the letter) of the GPL.

<p>
We put considerable work into making it possible for Ghostscript to use GNU
readline, including the creation and adjustment of internal software
interfaces specifically to serve this purpose. In principle, we should have
undone this work in AFPL Ghostscript, lest FSF object to it too as
intended to facilitate linking AFPL Ghostscript with GNU readline (as the
U.S. government has been said to do for code that merely provides APIs where
encryption may be added). However, we are willing to take this risk rather
than spend the time to undo the interface changes.

-- 
L. Peter Deutsch        |               Aladdin Enterprises
ghost_at_aladdin.com       | http://www.aladdin.com | 203 Santa Margarita Ave.
                        | fax +1-650-322-1734    | Menlo Park, CA 94025
	The future of software is at http://www.opensource.org
Received on Sat Oct 21 14:36:12 2006

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