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Thought experiment: write an application that automatically downloads and combines code with all sorts of legally incompatible licenses to create an application and installs it on an Android device. If personally doing it is legal (and basically unenforceable), what about making it easy for others to? Besides, unless you're a "radical Stallmanist" (for lack of better term), chances are you have a mix of proprietary and FOSS and use it together on whatever data you work with.

This is why I think IP laws make no sense, arbitrary restrictions are arbitrary and stupid.

My understanding is that what you describe is completely legal.

ZFS on Linux is a good example of this. ZFS and the Linux kernel are both open source, but their licenses are incompatible with one another—ie, you can't combine the code.

A common workaround for this problem is to compile the source on the user's machine. When you install ZFS in Debian, apt will automatically download the ZFS and Linux source code, recompile the kernel with ZFS included, and install the result. This is all completely invisible to the user, except for the absurdly long install time.

Note - Debian only compiles and installs a kernel module for ZFS, which isn't quite as extreme as compiling the entire kernel.

Thanks, I didn't realize that!

That would definitely be a dodgy thing to do. In general, law courts are interested in the net effect of what you're doing rather than the technical details of how you did it, and what you'd be doing in that case is equivalent to distributing the Frankenstein application yourself.

Describing in a blog post how to build the Frankenstein application is perhaps perfectly all right, but somewhere between there and the hypothetical application you described a fuzzy line would be crossed.

There's another fuzzy line relating to whether code is combined or not. Code that goes into the same statically linked binary is definitely combined, I presume. What about code that communicates via a REST API or a standard protocol? Perhaps it depends on the attitude of the communities that produce the code. The Linux people seem to be happy with non-free kernel modules in a way that some people wouldn't be.

> Perhaps it depends on the attitude of the communities that produce the code.

I, uh, would really hope this "attitude" is standardized. GPL code should have the same meaning everywhere.

IMO, if this is an accepted practice on Linux—one of the largest GPL projects—that should be enough short of a court decision.

IANAL, but I think that would be regarded as a circumvention device by a court. I hope you're not basing your opinion regarding laws entirely on this contrived case :)

which 'effective' access control prevention would this circumvent?

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