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GPLv2 licensing and proprietary license

I really don't understand this stance. A license simply allows some things and disallows others, there is nothing that would require "legal advice".

Now if this would be a question about the interaction between the license and a legal system (what can and cannot be enforced), that would be a "legal question".

Yes the question is stupid, because it can be answered simply by reading the license, or some of the many explanations. But this reasoning is just ridiculous.

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Allowing things and disallowing other things are exactly the realm of legal advice. –  Martijn Pieters Sep 3 '12 at 13:13
    
@MartijnPieters What? So asking for example whether you can drive your car on red is requiring legal advice? Are you serious? –  Let_Me_Be Sep 3 '12 at 13:16
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A lot of people will know about simple traffic rules. But the GPL is not a simple list of traffic rules, and the choices are not so black and white, or red and green as a traffic light. –  Martijn Pieters Sep 3 '12 at 13:18
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What people mean is that when it comes to GPL enforcement, the lines are blurry, the decisions courts will make are blurry, and unless you pay for legal council, you cannot rely on Joe Soap's opinion on a website to protect you if you were given wrong advice. –  Martijn Pieters Sep 3 '12 at 13:19
    
If you have to ask the question after reading the license text, it means it's not clear. Therefore, it falls in the realm of "legal advice" - in this case "interpretation of written legal words" –  lc. Sep 3 '12 at 13:20
    
@MartijnPieters Yes, and this a completely different topic. GPL itself and it's enforcements are two different things. The same as not being allowed to drive on red and the chance of actually getting a ticket for it. –  Let_Me_Be Sep 3 '12 at 13:21
    
@lc. Let's be honest here. The OP most likely didn't read the license. –  Let_Me_Be Sep 3 '12 at 13:22
    
I think a proper traffic light 'legal advice' example would be: "Is it ok to floor it through the intersection when the light turns yellow?" –  lc. Sep 3 '12 at 13:22
    
According to @RobertHarvey licensing questions might be on topic for the Programmers SE. So perhaps the OP should have a look there. (He should verify first though. I don't participate nearly enough to be sure about it). –  Bart Sep 3 '12 at 13:23
    
@lc. This is getting country specific, since here you can't drive on red, but you can drive on yellow. If you floor through yellow, don't break speed limit and actually manage it while yellow is up, it's perfectly OK. –  Let_Me_Be Sep 3 '12 at 13:25
    
@Let_Me_Be: Yet my mum has been fined for it.. she drives like an angry bee in a small car, quite an experience to navigate traffic with her, I can tell you. She floors it when she sees a yellow light... :-P –  Martijn Pieters Sep 3 '12 at 13:34
    
@MartijnPieters And that's exactly the difference I'm trying to point out. If you stick to the license (which is what the question was about), you can still get sued. Legal implications and meaning of a license are two different things. –  Let_Me_Be Sep 3 '12 at 13:35
    
@Let_Me_Be "This is getting country specific" - that's true about licenses too. Interpretations of licenses can and do vary between jurisdictions. Particularly for derivative works. –  Flexo Sep 3 '12 at 13:41
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Asking "what am I allowed to do under license X" is my very definition of "legal advice". –  Time Traveling Bobby Sep 3 '12 at 13:43
    
@UnicornifiedBobby OK, I'm going to read up on the definition of legal advice, cause I'm obviously missing the point. –  Let_Me_Be Sep 3 '12 at 13:56
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1 Answer

The question is off-topic. There's no 'practical problem' involving code. It might, as Let_Me_Be asserts, be a question that can be answered without legal details. It might even be answered perfectly well with an answer of 'read the license.' But that doesn't make it a topical question for stackoverflow.

Reading the FAQ, this is not a question 'unique to the programming profession.' Lot's of non-programmers concern themselves with licenses. You might as well ask a question about leases; software companies often lease real estate.

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Exactly what non-programmers concern themselves with the "derivative" clause of GPL? –  Let_Me_Be Sep 3 '12 at 13:31
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The corporate lawyers of the programmer's company, when they get sued? –  Bo Persson Sep 3 '12 at 16:14
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The executives that make decisions about whether and how to ingest and excrete GPL materials. These are business decisions, and business people learn to make them or suffer the consequences. –  Rosinante Sep 3 '12 at 16:49
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