Licensing Issues?

David A. Cobb
Fri Sep 14 17:26:00 GMT 2001

Charles Wilson wrote:
> David A. Cobb wrote:
>> Would someone in the know please explain why there are licensing 
>> issues between GLibC and Newlib?  Are they not both GPL?
> Sigh.  this has been explained so many times I am surprised your search 
> of the archives did not reveal it.  You *did* search the archives, right?
> Cygnus (now Red Hat) releases cygwin under two licenses: the GPL and a 
> proprietary license.  People who purchase cygwin under the proprietary 
> license are allowed to distribute cygwin-based binaries WITHOUT 
> distributing their source code.  (You may not like this arrangement, but 
> it's the way things are.  Besides, the proceeds pay Chris' and Corinna's 
> and others' salaries...)

Yes, I knew that much.

> Anyway, ONLY the copyright owner of a particular work is allowed to 
> establish the license terms.  If you take GPL code that you do not own, 
> you can't change the license -- although the GPL gives you certain 
> redistribution rights.

OK, one cannot simply "borrow" (steal) from it even when it's open.

> Since Red Hat needs to specify the license, they need to own the code. 
> They don't own the glibc code.  Therefore they can't use it (as part of 
> cygwin1.dll -- e.g. newlib)  [This also explains why everybody who 
> contributes to cgywin1.dll must sign over copyright to Red Hat].

And glibc is, I presume, owned by FSF.

> --Chuck

Must one then observe "white room" conditions when developing, say, for 
a piece to go into newlib & cgywin1?  That is, carefully avoid knowing 
/anything/ about the glibc implementation?

To what extent may one legitimately learn from a free-speech program 
without actually extracting code?  This is very much like an old 
question about what, precisely, is copyrighted.  Once upon a time I knew 
the answer - the exact program text.  But that was before the new 
copyright laws and the days of software patents.

A library such as this must implement a very well-defined result; it 
would be pretty surprising if two implementations did not have a great 
deal in common.  Even short sequences, at least, of instructions are 
very likely in both.

David A. Cobb, Software Engineer, Public Access Advocate, All around 
nice guy.
New PGP key 09/13/2001:
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