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Re: gpl as applied to ideas

From: Alfred M. Szmidt
Subject: Re: gpl as applied to ideas
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 2006 12:26:43 +0100 (CET)

   >>Sec. 102(b) In no case does copyright protection for an original
   >>work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure ...

   Thanks. Quotes give solid backing.

Sadly, this quote does not.  The GPL can indeed be quite powerful
against software patents in source code, for example see the GPLv3
draft at

   Long ago, when there was an effort to oppose software patents, I
   too signed it, so that we would not have to pay patent license
   money to M$ to put "B", "I" and "U" buttons in our editors to make
   the text bold, italic or underlined, just because they believed
   that they did it first and "showed new light to the masses".

To think that the software patent war has been won, and there is no
need to oppose software patents is naive to say the least.

   Can I inspect source code in one language (PHP in particular, with
   all its $'s, ->'s, and =>'s ) and make a program in VB.Net (with
   namespaces, dots(.), and OOP framework) which does roughly the same

The line between such cases is blurry.  You are copying the code to
some extent, maybe not by copying actual digital bits, but it is still
copying.  It is akin to translating a book, which you still need
permission for to do.

   Would I be said to be "influenced enough" for it to be called a
   derivative work from the GPLed program?

It depends on the specific details.  The best way to answer the
question is to talk to a lawyer.

   Technically no, but in spirit, absolutely. Porting from PHP to
   .Net, in short.

This is not entierly true, technically it can be a deriviate.

   If you ask me personally, I would say it *is* _thievery_ IF a
   shareware program were involved. But GPLed software? Since one
   component of the allowed freedoms is "to inspect/study the source

It is not "theivery", you cannot steal software.  Nor is it wrong to
copy/modify/study/run software, even illgeally.

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