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Re: GNU licenses

From: alexander . terekhov
Subject: Re: GNU licenses
Date: 4 Sep 2006 17:19:44 -0700
User-agent: G2/0.2 schrieb:
> > You still have all the rights to _your_ original work.  You can take
> > it and create a work from it that does not use any GNU code.  But you
> > don't have all the rights to the combined work.
> >
> I know. And it's that last sentence -- that you don't have all the
> rights to the combined work, that ticks me off.

Hey, GNUtians want you believe in something that might be true only
in the GNU Republic. Uncopyrightable aggregations aside for a moment,
you, as a sole author of a compilation (this term includes collective
works), do have all the rights in compilation. That's one difference
(among others) between compilations and derivative works. Your
compilation copyright is totally independent from copyrights on
constituent works.

But in the GNU Republic, the copyr^Hleft act created fascinatingly
fuzzy regime for software ("quanta" mismatch and all that, see
below).  It's not about expression (as in literary works per Berne
Convention which says that computer program works are to be
protected as literary works) modulo the AFC test (to filter out
unprotectable elements) like in the rest of the world. Rather, as
bullshit rapper Moglen The dotCommunist has nicely put it (in
slight disagreement with RMS):

Q10c: Lets say I have a program that uses free libraries, which are...

Richard Stallman: Well, linking them together like that is clearly
combining them. The rules, based on the existing GPL, are too
complicated for me to try to recite them to you. All I can say is, yes,
the GPL makes conditions in that case.

Q10d: That means any such use is a violation of the GPL?

Richard Stallman: Some kinds may be permitted. That's why I'm saying it
depends on details, very much. But linking components together is
certainly combining them.

Eben Moglen: Richard, can I make a comment here? Here's the problem.
The problem that you're facing in asking the question, and the problem
that Richard is facing in trying to answer it. When you try to take two
disciplines of thought that use different primitive quanta - different
units of meaning - there's not going to be a congruent mapping between
one vocabulary and the other - as there is no guarantee that there is a
one-to-one match between words in Hindi and words in English.

The problem is that the unit of meaning in copyright law is the work,
whatever the work is. That's the unit in which copyright law speaks. So
the author, or authors, of a work have certain exclusive rights,
including the rights to control modification and distribution. GPL
says, we give most of those rights to the user, in the work, rather
than withholding them, as proprietary users do.

What's the unit of a program? Not the work. Computer science has
defined many quanta of meaning in computer program since I began
decades ago. The subroutine, the function, the module, the object. Each
of those is a unit of meaning in a language of computer activity, but
it's not the work under copyright law.

Between the the quantum: work, and the quantum: module, library, file,
function, object, procedure, there is not a one-to-one mapping, and the
consequence is that when we attempt to exert our intention in copyright
law, we only speak in terms of the work. We must use the vocabulary of
copyright. Since that doesn't map neatly to the vocabulary of computer
programming, no matter what that vocabulary happens to be, given the
dominant paradigm of program construction, there is guaranteed to be a
zone of uncertainty.

Richard Stallman: I disagree. I wouldn't say that you're wrong. What
you're saying is right, but there's something even deeper to be said,
which is that what you're saying is not a problem. It sounds like
you're describing a problem, but in fact, criteria... because of the
fact that in a program you can express the same thing in many different
ways, and you can rewrite it to use many different ways to communicate,
any kind of criteria drawn up in terms of the technical boundaries that
exist in programs would be a bad criterion because it would be too easy
to play games with it.

If there were a criterion about files, well, it's easy to move
something from one file to another. If the criteria were about
subroutines, it's easy to split up a subroutine. You see what I mean?
Any criteria formulated in terms of the technical entities of
programming would be too easy to game around.

Eben Moglen: As when, for example, people tried to draw a line between
static linking and dynamic linking under GPL version two, and we had to
keep telling people that whatever the boundary of the work is under
copyright law, it doesn't depend upon whether resolution occurs at link
time or run time. Right? Those kinds of technical decisions, whatever
they are, don't map neatly into the language of copyright, which is the
language of the licence.

Richard Stallman: Nor into the intentions of the GPL. Because, the
point is, if we drew the line in the kind of clear way that programmers
want, in terms of technical points, then it would be easy for somebody
to evade the intention of the GPL just by taking that line as the
instructions on how to do it.

So, by making it so clear, in a mechanical sense, we would be
undermining the goal. 


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