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Re: Is database schema covered by the GPL?

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: Is database schema covered by the GPL?
Date: Tue, 24 Mar 2009 15:20:17 +0000 (UTC)
User-agent: tin/1.6.2-20030910 ("Pabbay") (UNIX) (FreeBSD/4.11-RELEASE (i386))

walterbyrd <> wrote:
> Product A is licensed by the GPL. Product A uses MySQL.

> Product B is a seperate application. Product B is not a module for
> product A. Product B's code is not embedded in product A.

> But, product B can access product A's data by reading the same MySQL
> database as product A.

Your language here kind of implies that A's data aren't actually part of
application A, they're separate from it.  So, what have we got here?
You're generating data with Product A which are stored in a database
format.  You want to access them from product B.  Yes?

> Here is the rub: for product B to access product A's data, product B
> must be aware of the database schema used by product A.

Yet this schema is part of the database rather than part of product A?

> Product B must know the database name, the table names, and the field
> names, and the database structure, and all of that - I assume - is
> covered by the GPL.

> Since product B used the GPL'd database schema of product A; must
> product B also be licensed under the GPL?

I would guess no, since B seems to be making an arm's length call upon a
separate program, rather then being combined with it into a derivative
work.  That's kind of assuming that the database schema was made
available as part of the public interface to the database, much like a
C header file describes the interface to part of the kernel.

However, if A + database are really an integrated whole, supplied as
such, then your B + database might well count as a derivative product,
which you would then have to license under the GPL.

It would be easier to say if you descended from lofty abstractions to
describe in concrete terms what A and B are.

Alan Mackenzie (Nuremberg, Germany).

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