[kaffe] Re: kaffe's license

Jim Pick jim at kaffe.org
Thu Jun 16 13:00:57 PDT 2005

Jim White wrote:
> Jim Pick wrote:
>> ...
>> The GPL license is somewhat undefined in terms of how it interacts with
>> other code.  It's not a license I would have chosen for a virtual
>> machine.  Some people say if you run an application on top of the VM,
>> you would have to make that application GPL-licensed too.  Some people
>> say that's nonsense (I tend to agree with that viewpoint).
> That is clearly FUD.

I mention it because that was Transvirtual's old position.  Yes, I
believe it to be FUD too.  :-)

I'm just trying to lay out the situation and the history so that people
can make an intelligent decision themselves as to whether or not there
is a legal risk for them.

I would love to be able to say there is "no risk" that somebody using
Kaffe would ever be sued, but I'm not a lawyer (and I doubt you could
ever get a lawyer to say that either).  Remember, companies like SCO
will sue people even if they have no legal basis for a case.

I didn't even mention the messy situation with software patents,
particularly in the U.S., and possibly Europe, soon...  Who knows what
patents companies like Sun, IBM, Microsoft and others are holding that
might apply to our implementation?

>  GNU explicitly says that is not the case, and if
> it were the case then any non-open source application running on Linux
> would be in violation.

True, and the Linux license also adds a "clarification" to make that
very clear.

> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#PortProgramToGL
> The lack of undue dependency for VM's made clear here:
> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#InterpreterIncompat
> The poster's original question is also answered by GNU:
> http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#TheGPLSaysModifiedVersions

The same page also says that subclassing a GPL'd java class is creating
a derivative work.  Kaffe's class libraries were GPL'd.  We've almost
completely moved over to using the Classpath projects class libraries,
which are GPL+Exception, so hopefully that will provide some more
license "insulation".  :-)


 - Jim

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