[Mono-list] any comments out there about this article

Michael Poole poole@troilus.org
11 Jul 2001 18:23:11 -0400

"Sebastien Lambla" <sebastien.lambla@6sens.com> writes:

> Andy,
> I totally agree on the need for the JIT, compiler and such to be relased in
> GPL. My problem is for the class library. If a non-free software with a
> non-free license is run on top of a GPL'd mono class library, what happens?
> Sebastien Lambla

If non-free software is run on top of a GPL'd Mono class library,
several things can happen.  (Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, and AFAIK
none of these questions have been raised in court, but these are the
more-or-less "standard" answers to your question.)

If Mono is the only library implementing the interface the non-free
software is using, the non-free software is tied to using a GPL'd
piece of software, and it is probably a violation of the GPL for the
author of that non-free software to have distributed his software
under a non-free license.

If there are other libraries implementing the interface being used by
the non-free software (at least, if one of the libraries does not have
the GPL's "viral" nature), then there is no tight binding to Mono.
The end user is the one linking the non-free software to GPLed
software, and the GPL allows end users to do whatever they wish.  In
this case (which is the case with standard .NET Framework classes),
everybody is playing by the rules.

The latter case is similar to what happens on Linux: there are a lot
of non-free applications that depend on the interface that the kernel
provides.  Linus has said that he doesn't consider using that system
interface to be "linking" according to the GPL, and others (FreeBSD,
etc.) have implemented the same interface anyway, so his opinion might
not count for much anyway.  (It also might; like I said before, nobody
has gotten answers to these questions in a court of law.)

-- Michael