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Re: GPL traitor !

From: Hyman Rosen
Subject: Re: GPL traitor !
Date: Mon, 11 May 2009 10:16:20 -0400
User-agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20090302)

Alan Mackenzie wrote:
The notion of "inclusion" doesn't make sense when talking about computer
programs.  Tell me, is an intricate C Macro "included in" or "referred to
by" the extension?  What about a data structure it uses?

Referenced by. Macros are directions to the compiler on how to translate
code to which they are applied. Similarly, data structures are ideas and
inventions, not text. You can patent them, but you cannot copyright them,
and using data structures does not subject a program to the copyrights of
the support library.

There might be a case made for things like C++ template libraries subjecting
compiled programs to their copyright when those libraries come with large
amounts of code that appear translated into the output with minor parameter
substitutions. Perhaps sufficiently large C macros might qualify as well.

In that case, the extension is derived from the source code of the data
structures, and thus isn't a "separate" new work.

You are again using the word "derived" in it English sense, which is not
relevant. Copyright recognizes the concept of a "derivative work" (not a
"derived" work, which has no meaning in copyright law). A derivative work
is a work that is a significant auctorial transformation of an existing
work, and the concept of derivative work exists in order to handle the
issues of copyrights belonging to both the original author and to the
transforming author.

Copyright does apply to characters created by an author. You might try to
apply the novel and amusing argument that the data structures of a program
are equivalent to the characters of a novel, and so their use in another
program violates the original author's copyright. You would lose, though.
Courts like interoperability and frown on using copyright to prevent it.

> Interoperability has nothing to do with what's been discussed so far.

It does - using the data structures of another program in order to interact
with it is exactly interoperability. If the copyright holder of a GPLed
program is attempting to deprive the author of a program which interoperates
with it (such as a plug-in) of his copyright rights, that is exactly trying
to prevent interoperability using copyright.

One of the central aims of the GPL is to promote interoperability, as
you're well aware.

I'm not aware of any such thing. The aims of the GPL are that users of
computer programs should have the right to run, read, modify, and share
those programs. Where does interoperability enter the picture?

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