Clipper and the GPL 
Author Message
 Clipper and the GPL

I have been struggling with the issues surrounding release of
Clipper-compiled application software under the GPL. Clearly all
proprietary, third-party libraries must be removed from the code base.
But I am wondering about Clipper (from Computer Associates) itself. If
this seems like nitpicking to too fine a degree, I actually share the
sentiment, but I believe these things are important:

My Clipper license permits me royalty-free distribution of executables
and allows me to apply restrictions of my own to the copyrights on
these applications. The GPL does not appear to allow the linking of
libraries which are not, themselves, provided under the GPL. Does this
perhaps mean that Clipper executables, which link in functions from
the libraries CLIPPER.LIB and EXTEND.LIB, are in some way questionable
as GPL distributions?

Put differently, has anyone ever been confronted with the possibility
that a GPL copyrighted distribution of a Clipper executable (Compiled
by CA-Clipper), would not stand as valid in a court of law?

I appreciate your indulgence,

Ben Prescott

Fri, 15 Apr 2005 00:11:49 GMT  
 Clipper and the GPL

> Put differently, has anyone ever been confronted with the possibility that
> a GPL copyrighted distribution of a Clipper executable (Compiled by
> CA-Clipper), would not stand as valid in a court of law?

First off, IANAL, this is just opinion. You have to remember that, if *you*
are licensing a body of code then you get to choose, to a large degree, how
the licence is interpreted (well, perhaps "choose" is the wrong word, I mean
that you get to say to people how they can and can't use *your* code). So,
if you decide to licence a body of your code under the GPL you can say what
is and isn't considered a derived work.

If you want to make things clear you can easily include some explanation,
with your code, that says that the licence covers your code and any code
which is a derived work of your code. You can say that it doesn't cover such
things as CLIPPER.LIB.

I faced a similar situation when I wrote WEG and released that under the
GPL. WEG, being written in Delphi, relies on the VCL. My view of this is
that the GPL covers my code and my code only. If someone decides that they
want to create a modified copy of WEG then, without a doubt, their derived
work must be GPL compatible. That doesn't mean, however, that they can't
distribute a compiled copy of their modified WEG due to them not being able
to change the licence of the VCL.

Likewise, if they wanted to create a different interface for WEG, perhaps
using 3rd party non-free components, I wouldn't suggest to them that they
can't because of those components being non-free. I'd simply point out that
the application as a whole, a binary distribution, should be released under
the terms of the GPL but the only source that needs to be made available and
licenced under the GPL is my source that they used and the sources they
added, which derive from mine.

Of course, none of this really answers your question about a GPLd Clipper
application "standing" in a "court of law", it only documents my point of
view regarding a similar situation. Point being, in reality, I've licenced
WEG in a way that guides honest people and lets them act honestly. I don't
have the pockets to take on dishonest people, but at least my choice of
licence helps detect dishonest people.

Apologies if this opinion isn't really helpful. I think it goes without
saying that if you want the full legal interpretation you're not going to
get it for free on usenet.

Dave Pearson                        |  OSLib - Timeslice release functions.               |     eg - Norton Guide reader for Linux.       |    weg - Norton Guide reader for Windows. | dgscan - DGROUP scanner for Clipper.

Fri, 15 Apr 2005 17:12:47 GMT  
 [ 2 post ] 

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