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GNU GPL not Multimedia Compatible?

From: Thomas Uwe Gruettmueller
Subject: GNU GPL not Multimedia Compatible?
Date: Mon, 15 Apr 2002 08:17:12 +0200

Hi, GNU folks!

I have recently joined this list because I would like to bring 
two problems to your attention, which I see in the GPL, and 
discuss them with you. However, as I am not a lawyer, my 
interpretation of the GPL and the German copyright law could 
also be complete garbage; so there might be no problem at all.
If you can convince me of that, I would be very happy :o)

Some time ago, I tried to apply the GPL on raster sequencer 
music. For this kind of music, it is easy to determine what 
"source code" and "object code" mean: the source code would be 
the sequencer data, the samples and maybe also the sequencer 
software; the object code OTOH would be the digital recording 
that can be "compiled" byte-accurately from the source code. 
Also, I feel that my music should be copylefted, and that I want 
to create music with similar-minded people; so the GPL seemed 
fine to me. (I don't have an oppinion on whether all music 
should be free, though.)

Problem 1:

After putting a first test song onto my web site, I started 
reading through the German copyright law.

If I understand it correctly, the only exclusive rights the 
author of a computer program holds (s. §69a 4. and §69c UrhG) 
are copying, modification and distribution (maybe also runnig?).

For other artistic work, e.g. for music works, there are also 
several other exclusive rights, e.g. broadcasting, performance, 
etc. (s. §15 UrhG ff).

(I have sloppily translated the relevant sections of the German 
copyright law into English, and include them, below. I don't 
think this problem is Germany-specific, but I have not read 
other Copyright laws, yet.)

Now, the GPL reads,

| Activities other than copying, distribution and modification
| are not covered by this license; they are outside its scope. 

On the first glance, I understood this as "Other activities are 
not restricted", but literally read, it certainly means "Other 
activities are not granted" :o(

However, I want to grant these rights. So, it seems, that 
although it is possible to apply the GPL on music works, there 
is still need for a complemental license that would grant the 
additional rights. Without such -- still fictional -- 
complemental license, it would not be possible e.g. to broadcast 
GPLed music.

Now, about the incompatibility issue:

Normally, nobody would object against broadcasting a free 
software program (e.g. in the vertical blank time frame of a TV 
signal). This would probably be considered a way of copying and 
distributing the program.

However, as already said, a GPLed music work cannot be 
broadcasted, without royalties involved -- at least not without 
an additional licence.

So, if a GPLed computer program and a GPLed music work are put 
together, forming a greater work, e.g. a computer game, the 
resulting work could not be freely distributed by broadcasting, 

The GPL does not allow futher restriction of the rights it 
grants (s. item 6.), however linking GPLed music with a GPLed 
program, creating a GPLed game which is a derived work of both 
parts, would create such further restriction, the original 
program did not have. IMHO, one cannot argue in this case that 
the game is just mere aggregation of several independent parts 
(like a program and its documentation are), that do not form one 
work. I think, they actually do form a "collective work" (s. §4 
UrhG). Thus, it must be IMHO legally impossible to create such a 
computer game at all.

Problem 2:

For music in general, it is hard to determine what the term 
"source code" means. So, for music that is not created using a 
raster sequencer, it is more convenient not to enforce the 
distribution of the source code. This can be easily done with an 
exception to the GPL, written into the copyright note.

However, there are again two compatibility issues:

1. Music enforcing its source code distribution and such that
   doesn't, are not compatible.

   I don't want my music to be restricted to raster sequencing,
   only. Maybe some wants to perform the songs live, and then
   create a 256-track recording from it. So, I would also have to
   not enforce the source code. (That seems pretty OK to me, as 
   the sources of music are IMHO not so important than those of
   technical stuff. However, it increments the possibility of
   issue 2:)

2. If there is no source code available for a music recording,
   it will not be includable into a GPLed computer game, because 
   of the lack of source code.


I understand that the FSF does not care about the freedom of 
music, as in most cases, there is no resemblence with free 

But maybe, you could reconsider your position and

1. create a free multimedia license that allows the additional
   rights (see below) and therefore solves the compatibility
   issues and

2. release the recording of the Free Software Song under it, so
   that I can finally remix it ;o)


 - - - - -
                      (AUTHORS RIGHTS LAW)                       
  Created:        1965-09-09                                     
  Last modified:  1998-11-01                                     
Part 1: AUTHORS RIGHTS                                           
Section 2: The Work                                              
§ 4 Collective Works and Database Works                          
 1. Collections of works, data or other independent elements     
    that are a personal intellectual creation because of their   
    choice or arrangement (collective works), are protected like 
    individual works, independently from authors rights or       
    related protection rights, possibly pending on each of the   
 2. A database work in the sense of this law is a collective     
    work, of which the elements are arranged methodically or     
    systematically, [so that] they can be individually accessed  
    with the help of technical equipment or other ways. A        
    computer program (§69a), used for creating the database work 
    or used for accessing the elements is not part of the        
    database work.                                               
Section 4: Content of the Authors Rights                         
3. Usage Rights                                                  
["Verwertung", here tranlated as "usage", originally sounds a bit
like "value-unleashment"]                                        
§ 15 Overview                                                    
 1. The author has the exclusive right to use his work in        
    material form; this right includes especially                
    1. the copy right (§16),                                     
    2. the distribution right (§17)                              
    3. the exhibition right (§18)                                
 2. The author has the exclusive right to publically play back   
    his work in immaterial form (public play back right); this   
    right includes especially                                    
    1. the recitation-, performance-, and presentation right (§19
    2. the broadcasting right (§20)                              
    3. the right to play back the work from audiovisual media    
    4. the right to play back the work from a broadcasting (§22) 
 3. The play back of a work is publically, if it is intended for 
    several people, except if they are a clearly delimited group,
    with a personal relationship between themselves or to the    
§ 16 Copy Right                                                  
 1. The copy right is the right to create copies of the work,    
    no matter how many or with which technique.                  
 2. Copying also means the transfer of the work on devices for   
    repeated playback of video or audio sequences (audiovisual   
    media), no matter if a play back of the work is recorded     
    onto audiovisual media or if the work is transferred from    
    one audiovisual medium to another.                           
§ 17 Distribution Right                                          
 1. The distribution right is the right to offer the original or 
    copies of the work to the public, or to circulate them.      
 2. If, on the territory of the European Union or [blah-blah],   
    with the consent of the distribution right holder, the       
    original or copies of the work have been brought into        
    circulation by selling, their redistribution is allowed,     
    except for renting.                                          
 3. Renting in the sense of the rules of this law means to let   
    others use [the work] for a limited time, serving -- directly
    or indirectly -- business purposes. It does not count as     
    renting to let someone use originals or copies               
    1. of building works or works of the applied arts or         
    2. within a work relationship for the limited purpose to     
       use it for the duties of the work relationship.           
§ 18 Exhibution Right                                            
    The exhibution right is the right to publically display the  
    original or copies of an unpublished work of the depicting   
    arts or of an unpublished photographic work.                 
§ 19 Recitation-, Performance-, and Presentation Right           
 1. The recitation right is the right to make a language work    
    publically audible by performing it personally.              
 2. The performance right is the right to make a music work      
    publically audible by performing it personally or to perform 
    a work on stage.                                             
 3. The recitation right and the performance right include the   
    right to make the recitals and performances publically       
    perceptible outside the room in which they take place, using 
    screens, loudspeakers or similar technical equipment.        
 4. The presentation right is the right to make a work of the    
    depicting arts, a photographical work, a film work or        
    representations of scientific or technical nature publically 
    perceptible, using technical equipment. The presentation     
    right does not include the right to make a broadcasting of   
    such work publically perceptible (§22).                      
§ 20 Broadcasting Right                                          
    The broadcasting right is the right to make the work         
    available to the public, using audio broadcasting, television
    broadcasting, sattelite broadcasting, cable broadcasting or  
    similar technical means.                                     
§ 20a European Sattelite Broadcasting                            
§ 20b Cable Re-Broadcasting                                      
§ 21 Right to Play Back the Work from Audiovisual Media          
    The right to play back the work from audiovisual media is the
    right to make recitals or performances of the work publically
    perceptible, using audiovisual media. §19, par. 3 applies    
    here, corresponding.                                         
§ 22 Right to Play Back the Work from a Broadcasting             
    The right to play back the work from a broadcasting is the   
    right to make broadcastings of the work publically           
    perceptible, using screens, loudspeakers or similar technical
    equipment. §19, par. 3 applies here, corresponding.          
§ 23 Adaptions and Modifications                                 
    Adaptions and other modifications may only be published or   
    used with the consent of the [original?] author of the       
    changed or modified work. If a work is to be filmed, if plans
    or sketches of a work of the depicting arts are to be        
    executed, if a constuction work is to be rebuilt or if a     
    database work is to be adapted or modified, also the creation
    of the adaption or modification requires the consent of the  
§ 24 Free Use                                                    
 1. An independant work that was created by freely using the work
    of another [author], may be published and used without the   
    consent of the author of the used work.                      
 2. Par. 1 does not apply to using a work of music in a way that 
    a melody is recognizably taken from the work and inserted    
    into a new work.                                             
[end of "3. Usage Rights"]                                       
Section 8: Special Regulations on Computer Programmes            
§ 69a Object of Protection                                       
 1. In the sense of this law, computer programmes are programmes 
    of any appearance, including their draft material.           
 2. The granted protection is valid for all forms of a computer  
    program. Ideas and principles, on which an element of a      
    computer program is based, including the ideas and principles
    on which the interfaces are based, are not protected.        
 3. Computer programmes are protected, if they are individual    
    works, meaning that they are the results of the author's own 
    intellectual creativity. In order to determine their         
    protectability no other criteria must be applied, especially 
    not quality-based or aesthetical ones.                       
 4. On computer programmes, the regulations for language works   
    apply, if not ruled otherwise in this section.               
§ 69b Authors in a Work- or Service Relationship [...]           
§ 69c Activities that Require Consent                            
    The right holder has the exclusive right to execute the      
    following activities or to allow them:                       
    1. copying the computer program, permanently or temporary,   
       completely or partially, whith any means and in any form. 
       If loading, displaying, running, transferring or saving   
       the program require the program to be copied, also these  
       activities require the consent of the right holder.       
    2. translating, editing, arranging and other forms of        
       modifying a computer program, as well as to copy the      
       results. The rights of those, who edit the program, are   
       not affected.                                             
    3. any form of distributing the original [;o)] of a computer 
       program, or copies of it, including renting it. If a copy 
       of a computer program is brought into circulation on the  
       territory of the European Union, by selling it, the       
       distribution right is exhausted in regard to this copy,   
       except for the renting right.                             
§ 69d Exceptions from Activities that Require Consent [...]      
§ 69e Decompiling [...]                                          
§ 69f Right Infringement [...]                                   
§ 69g Application of Other Juristical Regulations, Contract Law  
[End of Section 8]                                               
[End of Part One]                                                

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