cvs commit: src/lib/libdwarf Makefile _libdwarf.h dwarf.h dwarf_abbrev.c dwarf_attr.c dwarf_attrval.c dwarf_cu.c dwarf_dealloc.c dwarf_die.c dwarf_dump.c dwarf_errmsg.c dwarf_errno.c dwarf_finish.c dwarf_form.c dwarf_init.c dwarf_loc.c ...

Peter Wemm peter at
Fri May 23 16:38:30 UTC 2008

On Wed, May 21, 2008 at 8:11 PM, M. Warner Losh <imp at> wrote:
> In message: <200805220214.m4M2EYTM061847 at>
>            John Birrell <jb at> writes:
> :   The API for this library is deliberately different to the GPL'd
> :   libdwarf to avoid licensing problems.
> What licensing problems does it avoid?  APIs can't be copyrighted, and
> therefore can't be GPL'd.
> Warner

Well.. the GNU and linux folk have an interesting spin on this.  They
seem to maintain that if an API is specific to a GPL'ed code blob,
then programs that use that specific API are therefore derivatives.

There was a case a few years ago about the gmp library.  They
maintained that a 3rd party consumer of libgmp was a GPL violation if
it wasn't distributed under GPL compatible terms.  I seem to recall
that the 'fgmp' (free-gmp) library came out, and a new release of the
3rd party package was made with the references in the documentation
changed to something like 'uses fgmp or a fgmp-compatible library like
gmp' or some such.  It was all a giant circus and waste of effort,
especially since fgmp wasn't really a viable gmp replacement.

The next point is that the Linux folks (including Linus) seem to
consider that making calls to the linux kernel causes your driver to
be a derivative, unless the API you're calling has been blessed as a
public interface.  (To be fair, I can see the point for their specific
circumstances, but their interpretation of copyright seems to be quite
a stretch to me).

Back to this case.  There are non-GPL implementations of libdwarf out
there.  I think the API is well and truly fair game at this point.
Peter Wemm - peter at; peter at; peter at
"All of this is for nothing if we don't go to the stars" - JMS/B5
"If Java had true garbage collection, most programs would delete
themselves upon execution." -- Robert Sewell

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