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Re: GPL traitor !

From: Hyman Rosen
Subject: Re: GPL traitor !
Date: Thu, 14 May 2009 09:10:10 -0400
User-agent: Thunderbird (Windows/20090302)

Alan Mackenzie wrote:
We have been discussing, in the main, a single computer program,
> the GCC compiler.

No, we have not. We have been discussing a single computer program,
written from scratch, whose source code contains no part of the code
of GCC, but is written in a stylized way such that it may be bound
into a single executable also containing the rest of GCC and which
then will interoperate with the rest of GCC to carry out some function.

I assert that the source code of this separately written part does not
fall under the copyright of GCC and may be distributed under any terms
the author wishes.

It DOESN'T mean that they can crack MS-Word and plug code for ODF into

Please reread section (4):
    (4) For purposes of this subsection, the term “interoperability”
    means the ability of computer programs to exchange information,
    and of such programs mutually to use the information which has been
I do not believe that your interpretation is correct. Adding a plug-in
to an existing program appears to be the very exemplar of programs
mutually using exchanged information.

> And it also only applies in the USA.

The Berne Convention and the WIPO Copyright Treaty act as homogenizing
influences. But if you wish to regard my arguments as applying only to
the USA, that's fine with me.

Stop being so evasive.  Courts understand that there is a thing "a
program", as contrasted with "173 lbs. of programming" - it is coherent
whole with well defined boundaries separating it from the rest of the
universe, just as a novel is.

The SFLC's own web site describes the abstraction-filtration-comparison
test used to determine copyright violation for computer programs. One of
the things that is filtered away is elements dictated by external factors:
    [] the mechanical specifications of the computer on which a particular
    program is intended to run;
    [] compatibility requirements of other programs with which a program
    is designed to operate in conjunction;
    [] computer manufacturers’ design standards;
    [] demands of the industry being serviced; and
    [] widely accepted programming practices within the computer industry

Notice the second item? Notice "operate in conjunction"? You are simply wrong
in your assumptions.

Extracting a piece of a program into a separate library file doesn't
make it any less a part of that program.

And you keep talking about extraction when no such thing has taken
place, if by extraction you mean copying. Studying a program to
learn how to interoperate with it and writing code which fits in is
not prohibited by US copyright law - the law specifically allows it.

You're [deliberately?] failing to distinguish between writing your own
program and extending somebody else's.

Because there is no distinction provided there is no copying.

If you do the second, you do it with the permission of the other program's
copyright holder.

No, you are completely wrong. You do not need permission from the other
copyright holder unless you copy. Copyright is about copying. US copyright
law explicitly protects interoperability with other programs. You are
inventing concepts to suit your purposes that simply do not exist in US
copyright law - their opposites do.

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