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Re: gpl as applied to ideas

From: Barry Margolin
Subject: Re: gpl as applied to ideas
Date: Thu, 07 Dec 2006 21:53:42 -0500
User-agent: MT-NewsWatcher/3.5.2 (PPC Mac OS X)

In article <>,
 "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?

If your code is basically a direct translation from one language to 
another, it would presumably be considered a derived work, much like a 
translation of a book from English to French.  Copyright gives the 
original author control over the creation of derived works as well as 
verbatim copies.

The more abstract you make the translation, the less likely it is to be 
considered a derived work.  For instance, changing from a traditional 
program design to OO framework would presumably result in a program very 
unlike the original in overall organization.  However, it's likely that 
many of the methods in the OO version will be straightforward 
translations of functions in the original, so you could still run into 
problems there.

Any time you've had access to the original source code, and then produce 
something that behaves similarly, there's a good chance that you'll be 
accused of copying.  This is why "clean room" procedures have been 
developed -- to document clearly that the authors of the new code did so 
without any chance of direct copying.

Barry Margolin,
Arlington, MA
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