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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 22:13:19 +0100
User-agent: slrn/ (FreeBSD)

On 2006-12-07, Joseph S. <> wrote:
> Merijn wrote:
>> 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.
> In effect, GPLed software is more inaccessible for study and inspection
> than shareware? By fear of contamination.

It's not "fear of contamination", it's not a virus. It is
about inadvertently copying stuff instead of writing your own.

You're not contaminated with anything if you listen to the
radio. Yet, if you later compose a very similar tune, the
courts may well decide you infringed the copyright. George
Harrison discovered this in the 1970s:

As did Madonna in 2006:

> Several leading Linux distros have GUI similar to M$ Windows so that
> the end user feels at home when switching over. What if M$ starts
> cribbing about that - the world will not get a Desktop Linux. So,

MS has nothing to 'crib' about. It's allowed to copy ideas. That's
why so many graphical environments use the window metaphor, and
why there's a button in the lower-left corner to get started.

Things could go wrong if people copied things like icons instead
of making their own. It's fine to have cut/copy/paste buttons,
but draw your own pictures or use licensed existing pictures.

> that's not fully sensible. IMO, if I've copied the idea from a GPL
> program, I should release the *idea* under the GPL, because that's what
> I copied. As far as code is concerned the GPL is pretty clear: copy
> code only if your work will be GPL.

The statement 'release the idea under the GPL' makes no sense.
Ideas cannot be covered by copyright, so they also cannot be
licensed under a copyright license. 

> So finally, I state clearly in my License agreement: "So-and-so layout
> and so-and-so idea is picked from so-and-so project."

That is very polite but not legally necessary.


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