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Re: GNU licenses

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: GNU licenses
Date: Wed, 06 Sep 2006 13:46:15 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux)

Alexander Terekhov <> writes:

> John Hasler wrote:
> [...]
>> You do not give up any rights by distributing under the GPL.
> You need to contact IBM's legal counsel and set them straight before 
> they further embarrass themselves, uncle Hasler.
> Wallace (to the Appellate Judges):
> ----
> IBM et al. state [IBM Brief at 15, ¶1] “The ownership interests
> contributors to software licensed under the GPL might have in their
> modifications are seriously limited, given that any distribution of 
> those modifications must be done under the terms of the GPL”. This 
> statement constitutes a mea culpa with respect to the extension of 
> “intellectual property rights beyond those conferred by Congress” 
> [see IBM Brief at 15, ¶2].

Uh, a "modification" is hardly a term used to describe something which
contains nothing of the original and is not derived from it.

As an example, suppose I have a GPLed application which contains an
inefficient insertion sorting algorithm at some point.  I take this
application and replace the insertion sort with a merge sort I wrote

This is a modification of the application.  It can either be carried
out inline, or in a separate function.  In either case, if I lift out
the algorithm created by myself and strip it of any data structures
specific to the GPLed application (which might already be the case if
the sorting function was added as a separate function), what I get as
a result contains nothing of the GPLed application.  Nobody would call
it a modification of it, and it can be distributed separately without
any problem.  However, the original application with the sorting
routine replaced _is_ a modification and derived work from the
original GPLed application.  I can't distribute that under any terms
but the GPL, even though I can distribute the lifted sorting stuff
under my own terms.

So I don't see how with the given phrasing IBM's counsel would need to
change a word.  And I don't see anybody embarrassing himself here
except from you and Wallace.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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