[Haskell-cafe] Using stringize and string concatenation in ghc preprocessing

Ben Franksen ben.franksen at online.de
Mon Jan 23 21:42:54 UTC 2017

Am 23.01.2017 um 21:21 schrieb Sven Panne:
> 2017-01-23 20:55 GMT+01:00 Ben Franksen <ben.franksen at online.de>:
>> It is not "my" intepretation, rather it is the "official" interpretation
>> of the GPL according to the people who created it (the FSF).
> But "official" is not the same as "is accepted by any court". Of course the
> people who created the license have a biased view, but so do company
> lawyers (and the rest of the management): The "safe mode" for them is to
> say "no", you can't be blamed then and don't do anything wrong, at least
> not immediately. As a lot of things in life, such decisions are not driven
> by desire to improve the well-being of a greater entity
> (company/society/...), but purely personal interests.

I can understand how this works. However, I would think that this is
also a matter of weighing risks against opportunities. I would really
like to talk to such a lawyer (in private) and ask him to explain to me
how he thinks the GPL could cause legal risk for a company that merely
uses the software.

>> Do you have any evidence to support this statement?
> Something like this happened to me at least three times in my career, and
> even if it's not direct refusal to accept such licenses, there are quite a
> few companies (especially bigger ones) which require a *lenghty* process to
> get SW with such licenses approved. This doesn't exactly encourage
> engineers to take that route...

Ok, still anecdotal evidence. Yes, there are such companies/lawyers.
Perhaps this is enough to justify caution. I would still like to see
some numbers.

>> I ask because if what you say is true, most companies willfully and
>> severely restrict
>> their options.
> There is no such thing as "the company", basically people are acting as
> individuals (see above).

Ah, well. So if the CEO thinks opportunities trump the risks he/she
*could* just overrule whatever the lawyers say.

>> For instance, a company that employs lawyers who "won't
>> touch GPL3 or even LGPL3 with a ten foot pole" could not use Linux in
>> any way (the kernel is GPL licensed), nor e.g. Android (based on Linux
>> kernel). [...]
> That's not true: If you take $$$ and e.g. license your RedHat Enterprise
> Linux/SLES/..., you have a legal entity (RedHat, SuSE, ...) which takes the
> responsibility before court, not *your* company. So that's the easy way for
> lawyers. Alas, there is no GHC/cpphs company of sufficient size for this to
> work in our case.

I really don't understand that kind of logic. In particular, how exactly
does getting GPL'd software from a vendor sich as RedHat allow the
client to shift legal risks to that vendor? And what about RedHat
themselves? Wouldn't *their* lawyers warn them against taking on such
risks? This just doesn't make any sense to me.

>  Disclaimer: I don't say that this is a perfect situation, but it's just
> what I've experienced. Just shouting "GPL is fine, you can use it!" ignores
> the darker side of company life...

Perhaps. I suspect that whatever corporate lawyers may say against GPL
is simply irrational fear and stupid conservatism.

BTW, are there *any* examples of court decisions against companies
because of GPL infringements that may lend substance to these vague
claims of terrible risks when using GPL licensed software?

"Make it so they have to reboot after every typo." ― Scott Adams

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