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Re: More GPL questions

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: More GPL questions
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 2006 13:16:35 +0200

David Kastrup wrote:
> clear that even a work which as a whole represents an original work of
> authorship can be a derivative work.

Uh retard dak.  The first rule of statutory construction is "begin at 
the beginning" and the second rule is "read on". Original simply means 
creative effort/non-mechanical creation. And as for "a whole", one can 
take a work from public domain and create a derivative work (a work 
which as a whole represents an original work of authorship). Such
derivative copyright won't cover old elements from the preexisting 
work, it will cover new creative stuff (modifications) and a work as 
a whole.

I hereby dedicate this into public domain:

  unsigned explosive_power = 0;
  while (still_not_eliminated("FSF"))
    send_a_bomb("FSF", explosive_power += 10/*kiloton*/);

and here's a derivative work:

  unsigned explosive_power = 0;
  while (still_not_eliminated("FSF")) {
    send_a_bomb("FSF", max((explosive_power += 100) + random(), 


A compilation or derivative work is copyrightable if it represents an 
''original work of authorship'' and falls within one or more of the 
categories listed in section 102. Read together, the two sections make 
plain that the criteria of copyrightable subject matter stated in 
section 102 apply with full force to works that are entirely original 
and to those containing preexisting material. Section 103(b) is also
intended to define, more sharply and clearly than does section 7
of the present law (section 7 of former title 17), the important
interrelationship and correlation between protection of preexisting
and of ''new'' material in a particular work. The most important
point here is one that is commonly misunderstood today: copyright
in a ''new version'' covers only the material added by the later
author, and has no effect one way or the other on the copyright or
public domain status of the preexisting material.

Between them the terms ''compilations'' and ''derivative works''
which are defined in section 101 comprehend every copyrightable
work that employs preexisting material or data of any kind. There
is necessarily some overlapping between the two, but they basically
represent different concepts. A ''compilation'' results from a
process of selecting, bringing together, organizing, and arranging
previously existing material of all kinds, regardless of whether
the individual items in the material have been or ever could have
been subject to copyright. A ''derivative work,'' on the other
hand, requires a process of recasting, transforming, or adapting
''one or more preexisting works''; the ''preexisting work'' must
come within the general subject matter of copyright set forth in
section 102, regardless of whether it is or was ever copyrighted.

The second part of the sentence that makes up section 103(a)
deals with the status of a compilation or derivative work
unlawfully employing preexisting copyrighted material. In
providing that protection does not extend to ''any part of the
work in which such material has been used unlawfully,'' the bill
prevents an infringer from benefiting, through copyright
protection, from committing an unlawful act, but preserves
protection for those parts of the work that do not employ the
preexisting work. Thus, an unauthorized translation of a novel
could not be copyrighted at all, but the owner of copyright in
an anthology of poetry could sue someone who infringed the whole
anthology, even though the infringer proves that publication of
one of the poems was unauthorized.


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