[sldev] RLV breakage, derivative works, and non-GPL patches

Michael Schlenker schlenk at uni-oldenburg.de
Sun Jun 28 03:54:48 PDT 2009

Aidan Thornton schrieb:
> Hi,
> On Tue, Jun 16, 2009 at 4:48 PM, Marine Kelley<marinekelley at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi all,
>> Sorry for making this message sound like a rant, but it seems that the RC
>> viewer has finally gone gold... without any prior warning. As a result, a
>> lot of people are now asking me when the compatible Restrained Life viewer
>> will be out, while I have not even finished working on my latest version. I
>> am now forced to release a half-done viewer (it is operational, it just
>> doesn't have all the features that I had planned to add for 1.23) so that
>> people can just keep using it.
> Okay, so your Restrained Life patches are closely tied enough that
> they break on viewer updates? I could be wrong, but that's probably
> not helpful to your argument that they're not derivative works and
> therefore releasing them under your non-GPL compatible, non-open
> source license[1] is OK. 
Read her patch. One part could maybe be argued as derivative work if you
were nitpicking, the major part is not. I guess she could release the
part that look like derivative work under GPL, BSD or some other
permissive license, their mostly trivial, worthless but harmless without
the other part, as they just add some trivial hooks to the GPL'ed viewer

(Especially as you're distributing compiled
> viewers containing them too.)
This is technically wrong, Marine does NOT personally distribute
compiled viewers herself...

> [1] http://realrestraint.blogspot.com/2009/03/rlv-license.html -
> forbids modification, distribution of the SL source code with the
> patch applied, distribution of binaries that contain both the patch
> and any other major changes compared to the official viewer, and sale.
> Each of these restrictions is GPL-incompatible.

If you read the license there in depth you'll see that its not really a
GPL issue. There is just a single step thats questionable and GPL
incompatible, and that is combining the patches to produce a binary and
distributing that. As GPL is only concerned with distribution its
perfectly legal to patch the source on your host and compile it, and
Marines license allows just that.

One could discuss if Marine should split her patch in two parts, one
part that modifies the viewer code (mostly adding trivial callbacks in
the right spot, thats the part that breaks with every single viewer
update, because it adds a policy based rights management to most
user<->in-world interactions) and one that provides the implementation
of the rights management code. If she put the the rights management code
into its own DLL and just did runtime linking like llkdu does it would
be fully okay.

I had that argument with her via mail when she published that license
and her response and thoughts about the issue are pretty well thought
out. So yes, you could try to ban the binary distributions as a GPL
violation, but thats it...


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