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Re: GNU licenses

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: GNU licenses
Date: Mon, 04 Sep 2006 09:50:10 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux) writes:

> David Kastrup wrote:
>> writes:
>> > Which raises another question: What happens if I learn something
>> > from the GNU software, like a "trick" or a more efficient way of
>> > programming some algorithm? If I use that METHOD/KNOWLEDGE even
>> > if not the ORIGINAL CODE does this mean I have to GNU?
>> Copyright concerns a particular expression, not the idea behind it.
>> Restricting access to ideas is the area of patents, not copyright.
>> In order to be sure that no copyrightable expression from a good
>> idea remains, large companies employ a "cleanroom" tactic: one team
>> analyses the copyrighted code, and then writes a specification for
>> it.  A different team without access to the original code then
>> rewrites the code from specification.  If the whole is done in a
>> well-documented way, it is likely to hold up in court.
> And what about an individual, not a multi-employee big fat
> corporation?

Then you are not overly likely to be on the radar for high-profile
lawsuits.  Be sure that your code is structured significantly
different.  Making an abstract interface description will help your
case, too.  Try working from that description instead of your memory
of the code.

Note that this is nothing particular to the GPL.

>> Well, so why do you want to make money off the work of others
>> without recompensating them?  You are free to write to the
>> copyright holders of the GPLed software and negotiate a different
>> license, and pay for that privilege.
> Of course it's totally up them (the owner) whether or not I have to
> pay for that privilege.

Sure.  As it is totally up to you whether or not others have to pay
for the privilege of using your code.

> Also, since I'd be starting from very little money, would they let
> me pay for it over time using the income I get from the program?

No way to find out but ask them.

> Just out of curiosity, if you made a GPL program and I wanted to use
> a bit of code in a for-profit program (I'm not a big company
> though), would you want me to pay money up front or could I pay it
> off with the income I get?

Very much depends on the case at hand.  If I feel you are dealing with
a fringe market, I might make it a one-time payment.  If I feel that
there is something sustainable in it, I might try for a profit ratio.
If I find the project to be distasteful, I might refuse altogether.
Or I might make a deal for dual-licensing (Trolltech publishes Qt
under multiple licenses, GPL and proprietary, and the latter makes
their income).

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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