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Re: gpl as applied to ideas

From: Merijn de Weerd
Subject: Re: gpl as applied to ideas
Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2006 11:47:05 +0100
User-agent: slrn/ (FreeBSD)

On 2006-12-07, Joseph S. <> wrote:
> 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
> thing?

What you can do is implement your own expression of someone
else's idea. If you see a program with B and I buttons that
are shortcuts for bold and italic text, go ahead and implement
those in your program too.

What you cannot do is copy or imitate *their* expression,
their implementation. That is not just the copy-pasting of
actual source code. If you let yourself be inspired by
their code, then write your own, changes are you are actually
copying code. If your head is the clipboard, as it were, you
have a copyright infringement even when the paste is slightly

The factors for infringement are access and substantial
similarity to the original. If your code is very similar
to the original, you probably copied it from the original.
If you let yourself be inspired by the original implementation,
chances are your implementation will be very similar.

Your only excuse in that case is that you only copied
functional parts (the approach, the algorithm) and not
the creative parts of the original work. 

If you do borrow creative parts of someone else's work,
you either infringe their copyright or you need to comply
with their license. In case of the GPL, that means your
derivative (if published) has to be GPL as well.


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