Fwd: Re: Would it be possible to give the FSF the copyright of m3.c (the m3cc backend)?

David Starner dvdeug@x8b4e53cd.dhcp.okstate.edu
Thu Jun 1 06:12:00 GMT 2000

Basically, m3.c could possibly be transfered to the FSF, but the main 
compiler probably won't be. The question is, is the GCC team and the FSF 
willing to accept that?

From: mann@pa.dec.com (Tim Mann)
Newsgroups: comp.lang.modula3
Subject: Re: Would it be possible to give the FSF the copyright of m3.c (the m3cc backend)?
Date: 1 Jun 2000 03:01:49 GMT
Organization: Systems Research Center, Compaq Computer Corporation
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m3.c and the related modifications to gcc are not in the gcc CVS tree 
because Richard Stallman does not want them.  The whole purpose of m3.c 
is to allow gcc to act as a backend for a frontend that is a separate 
program, communicating over a pipe.  Because the frontend and backend 
are separate programs with this arrangement, the frontend does not have 
to be under the GPL.  This provides an escape hatch from the GPL's so-called 
"viral" nature (all additions or modifications to a GPL'ed program must 
also be GPL'ed) and thus conflicts with Stallman's goals.  Modula-3 does 
use this escape hatch; the compiler frontend is under the SRC Modula-3 
license, a quite liberal license that fits the Open Source definition 
but is not compatible with the GPL.

Thus, although we could probably have gotten management permission to 
transfer m3.c's ownership to the FSF, the FSF would then have refused 
to distribute it, so that would not have been too useful.  Instead we 
put m3.c under the GPL (which is necessary because it's linked into the 
same address space as part of gcc), but left the ownership with Compaq. 
(By the way, this actually wouldn't prevent the FSF from distributing 
the code *if they wanted it*; the last time I looked, there were several 
files in the gcc distribution that were under the GPL but copyrighted 
to some entity other than the FSF.)

An alternative approach might have been to try to get the whole Modula-3 
compiler, or maybe the whole SRC Modula-3 distribution, donated to the 
FSF.  They could then put the whole thing under the GPL and presumably 
be happy.  I still don't know if that would have caused Modula-3 support 
to become part of the gcc distribution, however, and it would have been 
a much harder thing to persuade people here to go for, so we didn't pursue 

Tim Mann  <mann@pa.dec.com>  Compaq Systems Research Center

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