Licensing ambiguities with GPL and LGPL - was Re: Can Samba co-operate?

John Malmberg wb8tyw at
Fri Dec 21 10:40:06 GMT 2001

Mike McCormack wrote:

> Wine's license is X11, so i if i wrote a patch linking to libsmbclient
> or any other GPLed libraries, it wouldn't be accepted. (Wine may
> become LGPLed soon, but that won't help matters much, unless
> libsmbclient is LGPL'ed...)

The GPL makes a special exception for shared images that are considered 
part of the operating system, such as LIBC.  If they did not, there 
would be a problem selling commercial software to run on LINUX.

As I have pointed out before, there is an ambiguity in the GPL in regard 
to any GNU product that can be built as a shared image, like 
libsmbclient can be, but are not really considered part of an operating 

If I were to write a plug in for the FOOBAR Inc. commerical univeral 
file translater using GPL code, it would be permitted as long as the GPL 
was intact.  No one seems to dissagree with that as long as there is no 
connection between me and the FOOBAR company.

But under the terms of the GPL, FOOBAR Inc. does not seem to be able to 
do the same with out putting their commercial code under the GPL.

Now that does not seem to be either fair or correct behavior.

The same is true for a number of products that will dynamically accept 
plug in modules.  The vendor of the product made it easily to add 

My view would be that if the product did not require the GPL licensed 
component to function, and the GPL code was something that the end user 
could decide to use or not, then the vendor of a commercial product 
should be allowed to include it with their product, as long as it was 
perfectly clear what was the commercial product, and what were the GPL 
licensed extensions.

The last time I pointed this out on this mailing list, no one responded 
either pro or con to this viewpoint.

But please consider that I am not a copyright holder of any of the code 
in the SAMBA UNIX code base.  Nor am I a lawyer or ever played one on on 
TV.  And while I do not think that someone should be able to win a case 
against FOOBAR Inc. for including a GPLed plugin module, the U.S. legal 
system is full of cases where the many feel that the wrong thing happened.

It would be nice though if someone officially representing the SAMBA 
team could issue a license statement that clarifies this ambiguity, 
which could permit libsmbclient to be included as a plugin to other 
products, so long as credit and copyright notices, etc. are followed.

wb8tyw at
Personal Opinion Only

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