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Re: SWISH-E License

From: Greg Fenton <greg_fenton(at)>
Date: Thu May 22 2003 - 14:46:53 GMT
--- Bill Moseley <> wrote:
> I'm still not clear with GPL what defines a "derivative" work. Under
> GPL could one provide,
> say, a proprietary software product, yet include swish-e for
> searching their HTML docs, as
> long as they say it's swish-e and provide a copy of the GPL license? 

My interpretation of the GPL, and I'm happy to be corrected, is not
about including a GPL software program in a proprietary product, but
about using (stealing?) its *source code*.

I see no problem with someone simply shipping the SWISH-E exectuables
in their product.  They would need to document that SWISH-E is included
with their product and make the source code for that version of SWISH-E
available to anyone who requests it.  That's it.

> Would sharing a CD-ROM with swish-e force their code to be GPL?

Absolutely not.  Look at RedHat, which ships with Oracle.  The database
server's source code certainly isn't available.

> I'm having a hard time comparing that to Swish-e.  Swish-e has a C
> library.  Actually,  almost all the code is part of a library.
> So the line between library and program is not so clear.

Remember, the GPL and the LGPL have specific criteria to be true legal
documents and (hopefully) upholdable in court.  But the spirit of the
document is what really counts:  we make the source code available to
its end-users with no restrictions (Free) so no one can use that
software and source code in such a way that it becomes restricted to
its end-users (non-Free).

Bundling Free software with non-Free software is fine (though not
necessarily in keeping with the spirit). However, *absorbing* Free
software into non-Free software restricts the end-users rights to that
originally Free software.


Greg Fenton

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Received on Thu May 22 14:46:59 2003