[sane-devel] Please give me some help to solve the license issues in using sane

Alessandro Zummo azummo-lists at towertech.it
Tue Jun 10 14:11:33 UTC 2008

On Tue, 10 Jun 2008 16:00:38 +0200 (CEST)
Johannes Meixner <jsmeix at suse.de> wrote:

> As far as I see, it seems to be allowed from the legal point
> of view to have free software that uses non-free libraries
> because they only say that the program won't be fully usable
> or not usable at all in a free environment but they don't
> say it violates the GPL.

> But what does "If it depends on a non-free library to run at all,
> it cannot be part of a free operating system such as GNU" mean?
> Is "cannot be part of GNU" meant as a license violation or
> just that it cannot be included in a "free operating system"
> simply because it is useless?

 I think it mean it would be included in debian non-free rather 
 than main, for example. or something like that.

> But why can't there be a program in a "free operating system"
> which requires a proprietary library which checks if the
> library file is there before it dlopens it and if the library
> file is not installed, it shows a message where to get it
> (e.g. where to download it - or perhaps it even runs a
> download user GUI with appropriate license information).

 I think this is a philosophical thing. given that such program
 would probably be distributed via the manufacturer's website
 rather than via a distro, I'd say we don't have to care.

> They even say:
> ---------------------------------------------------------------
> If the program is already written using the non-free library,
> perhaps it is too late to change the decision. You may as well
> release the program as it stands, rather than not release it. 
> ---------------------------------------------------------------
> This seems to indicate that free software that uses non-free
> libraries is in compliance with the GPL from the legal point
> of view.

 Yes, it is, as long as the author(s) explicitly allows that.


 Best regards,

 Alessandro Zummo,
  Tower Technologies - Torino, Italy


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