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Re: GPL traitor !

From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: GPL traitor !
Date: Mon, 11 May 2009 19:38:05 +0000 (UTC)
User-agent: tin/1.6.2-20030910 ("Pabbay") (UNIX) (FreeBSD/4.11-RELEASE (i386))

In gnu.misc.discuss Hyman Rosen <> wrote:
> David Kastrup wrote:
>> That's "if", not "only if".  The problem is whether the combined work is
>> more than a mere aggregation of its part so that the original
>> constituents can no longer be told apart well enough to be licensed
>> differently.

> Let's speak of the source code to an extension, not the entire
> compiler consisting of the original compiler built with the new
> extension included. That extension is written from scratch, but
> is written to interoperate with the data structures of GCC. The
> source therefore contains many names which also appear in the
> GCC text, and likely many idiomatic uses of the data structures
> which appear similar to uses found in the GCC code.

> Such an extension, standing alone in source code, does not require
> permission from the GCC rights holders to be copied and distributed.

Hmm.  The new code contains not just some minor incidental part of the
original, but incorporates the original in its entirety and its essence,
copying all the recognisable and distinct text from it.  And you're
asserting this needs no permission from the copyright owner?  You seem
to be saying that there's no copyright in computer source code.

>>> Attempting to use copyright to prevent
>>> interoperability is considered by the courts to be a serious breach,

>> A serious breach of what?

> Use of copyright law. They don't allow it.

>> There is no clear and consistent case law with regard to linking stuff.
>> When in doubt, you will try to make sure that decisions leaning either
>> way will not put you too much in harm's way.

> Yes there is - video game system manufacturers tried and failed to use
> copyright law to require that independent game creators pay them for the
> right to create games on their systems.

There the independent game makers were creating works which "[could] be
reasonably considered independent and separate works in themselves" (in
the words of GPL2, with equivalent wording in GPL3).  Neither version of
the GPL asserts any rights like those claimed by the video games makers,
so that legal result has no relevance for the GPL.

Alan Mackenzie (Nuremberg, Germany).

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