Fwd: Re: Would it be possible to give the FSF the copyright of m3.c (the m3cc backend)?
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: email@example.com (Tim Mann)
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
X-Mailer: Pachyderm (client milwaukee.pa.dec.com, user mann)
To: Marc Fiuczynski <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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 <email@example.com> Compaq Systems Research Center
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