A Practical Guide to GPL Compliance

From time to time people ask here about the GPL, and whether you can
use GNU Radio in commercial products, etc. The Software Freedom Law
Center recently issued “A Practical Guide to GPL Compliance” which
may help address some of the questions:

1 Executive Summary

This is a guide to effective compliance with the GNU General Public
License (GPL) and related licenses. In accordance with the Software
Freedom Law Center’s (SFLC’s) philosophy of assisting the community
with GPL compliance cooperatively, this guide focuses on avoiding
compliance actions and minimizing the negative impact when
enforcement actions occur. It introduces and explains basic legal
concepts related to the GPL and its enforcement by copyright
holders. It also outlines business practices and methods that lead
to better GPL compliance. Finally, it recommends proper
post-violation responses to the concerns of copyright holders.



In my reading of this document, the issue of what constitutes a
“derivative works” is not addressed at all, except to reference (#5)
another document supposedly entitled “Software Derivative Work: A
Circuit Dependent Determination” … which doesn’t seem to exist (via
a Google search).

Closest I was able to find is “Software Derivative Work: A
Jurisdiction Dependent Determination” (same author & rough date /
year) < http://www.linux.com/feature/113252 > … which is interesting
but not greatly helpful (quoting from the first paragraph): “Just what
is a ‘derivative work?’ The answer to that question depends on which
court is being asked” … ug. I really wish the term “derivative
work” were more precisely defined in the GPL … maybe vagueness was
the intent?

I do not mean to revive the prior debate (on this list and many
others) about this topic (“what constitutes a ‘derivative work’”);
just noting the issue in case others read this document and want to
look up the reference. - MLD