[Bf-committers] extension clause

David Jeske davidj at gmail.com
Sun Nov 14 02:19:03 CET 2010

I think my post was mis-interpreted. I'm not trying to discuss the point of
commercially distributed binary extensions.

I am sharing the information, that at least in Silicon Valley, companies I'm
aware of DO NOT feel comfortable linking their propritary source to GPL even
if they plan never to distribute it. Whether this is a correct interpretion
of GPL is not relevant. It may be that these companies wish to operate
"beyond any chance of license infringement", or that their lawyers are just
too paranoid, or that they feel they ultimately can't control these types of
nuances enough to assure code they are using never gets released. However,
the facts are the facts. If you doubt this fact, I encourage you to talk to
employees of larger silicon valley companies that would be the type to use a
tool like Blender. It doesn't take long to discover specific situations
where they have made choices to avoid this kind of GPL-contamination risk.

Please avoid the temptation to jump into a debate about whether this is a
correct interpretion of the GPL. We are not lawyers, and the GPL has never
truly been tested this way in courts. More to the point, the answer to this
debate is irrelevant. If companies don't feel comfortable because of
_percieved_ GPL contamination risk, then they don't feel comfortable.

Users producing content within these companies make up the majority of
potential users for a tool like Blender. If companies could not use Linux,
gcc, Mysql, or other similar tools without this fear, those tools would not
have succeeded as they have. Fortunately for those tools, the conservative
interpretation of the GPL provides enough functionality... That is... if you
don't link with it, and you don't depend on it's behavior specifically, then
you are safe.

Let's consider another open-source component that does require people to
link with it. libc. It is specifically licensed under LGPL to prevent this
kind of contamination risk. Any changes to libc must be shared, but users
are free to link without fear of GPL contamination. By building an LGPL
licensed "extension api", users would be free to link, without fear of

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