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Re: What happend if (related GPL & src)

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: What happend if (related GPL & src)
Date: Wed, 01 Dec 2004 09:52:27 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/21.3.50 (gnu/linux) (hgb3D) writes:

> I have mailed this two messages to GCC and mesa3d

Complete wild unstructured mess mostly elided.  If your question is
not as important for you to put in a sensible form before posting,
what makes you think that it should be worth it for people to answer?

I recommend that you read the GPL FAQ
<URL:>.  If you still have any
question remaining, you can ask back.

> I have a question.
> I will read or desire to read the source code of gcc, but if I for
> example make some anotations or some work based in my notes, or I
> get a idea of how to implement X thing, or I think that certain idea
> is nice, and then I make my own compiler this compiler should need
> by under GPL?

If it is a derived work under copyright law: if you are copying actual
codes, structures or other stuff.  Algorithms are not covered by
copyright, their expression is.

So basically if you are getting ideas, and then sleeping over them and
after having seen the code write something from scratch without
looking at the original code, and don't have a photographic memory,
than chances are pretty well that you are fine.  Copyright and patents
are two different things: in the case of a patent, not having seen the
original is not helpful: you may not even use the idea if you've come
up independently with it.  In contrast, copyright is all about
copying.  If you can prove that you had no access whatsoever to the
original, you might publish a word-for-word identical program if you
can convince a court that this is just a freak coincidence.

Some large companies, to make sure about that "photographic memory
aspect", work on clones in two teams.  The first team abstracts a
technical description from the code/interface they want to clone, and
the second team implements the specification without taking a look at
the original code.  In court, you can then present the specification
as the significant piece of information that has been used in the
cloning process, and the court can decide whether this piece can be
called a derived copy of the original (a description usually is

Anyway: what is a derived work is not defined by the GPL, but by
copyright law.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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