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Re: Do I have to release the patch for a GPL software under GPL?

From: Merijn de Weerd
Subject: Re: Do I have to release the patch for a GPL software under GPL?
Date: Sat, 13 May 2006 11:40:53 +0200
User-agent: slrn/ (FreeBSD)

On 2006-05-13, Alfred M. Szmidt <> wrote:
>    Now, I, Evil Bill Fence Door, copyright this patch, sell it with
>    onerous copy protection, and for $1,000,000 a copy.  The license
>    that comes with it prohibits re-distribution of the patch.  Note
>    that I'm *not* re-distributing any GPL-licensed software.
> But you _modified_ a GPL licensed work (section 2 of the GNU GPL), and
> now are distributing the modifications to this work.  It is completely
> irrelevant what the form of the patch is, your patch does not work
> without the GPLed work, and cannot be used without it so it is a
> deriviate work.

If I distribute the modifications, then yes. In this example
only *instructions* are provided. Saying "crop the photo so
you see only the face, then put it in a red frame" is not
a derivative work of that photo.

>  To create the patch you modified a GPLed work, so it
> is clearly a modification in anyway of the word, how you represent
> these modifications are once again completely irrelevant.  Then there
> is the fact that your patch requires the GPLed work to be useful.

That's not the copyright law criterion for a derivative work.
The derivative has to *contain* all or part of the pre-existing

And that is actually what the section of the GPL you quoted
is referring to. If your original code is not derived from
the GPL code, it's a separate independent work. It may _need_
the GPL code to actually do something. That does not make
it a derivative work. An application is not a derivative work of
the operating system, although you need an OS to run the application.

What the GPL says in section 2 is that if you combine your own
work with the GPL work, the GPL applies to the whole. That's
logical: such a combination is a derivative work. This paragraph
of text is my original work. The combination of my paragraphs
with the parts of your message that I cited above is a derivative
work of your message. (I'm allowed to make that derivative work
because of fair use).


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