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Re: location of UnicodeData.txt



On Thu, Dec 12, 2002 at 11:38:25AM -0500, Jim Penny wrote:

> A)  Upstream produces some set of tables that it claims are compatible
> with unicodeData.txt, but not derived from them.

> B)  Upstream has a tool that mechanically takes unicodeData.txt,
> extracts, and reformats data for use in its program.  This tool is run
> by upstream, and is not rerun at build time.

> C)  Upstream has a tool that mechanically takes unicodeData.txt,
> extracts, and reformats data for use in its program.  This tool is run
> as a part of every build.

> I think that if the question was ever brought up before a court of law,
> B and C would be held to be equivalent; that is, that if under the DSFG
> "contract", C places a package in contrib; then B also would.  This is
> NOT a question of copyright law, but only of the DSFG "contract".

Careful; the Social Contract (and the DFSG it references) is not a
legally-binding contract, it is a set of guidelines.  Therefore, there is
no grounds for ever bringing this question before a court of law: the
highest court governing the application of the DFSG is the debian-legal
mailing list, together with the judgement of the ftpmasters and others
who would bear the responsibility of any actual infringement.

Moreover, the DFSG has *never* concerned itself with the tools used by
authors in the creation of their free software; if B) above is a non-free
dependency, then so is BitKeeper, so the Linux kernel has to go to
contrib; so is the POSIX spec, so any code written that references that
spec has to go to contrib.

> Programs using strategy A are probably DSFG free, assuming that there is
> no evidence of fraud.  But, given the complexity and magnitude of the
> unicode standard, and that the totality of facts embodied in
> unicodeData.txt is not available in the rest of the unicode standard:
> if an interested party ever brought this before a judge then
> copyright infringement would be proved.

Proving that A) is a copyright infringement would require showing both
that these tables are a derived work, and that the derivation is not
permitted by the license on unicodeData.txt.  I don't see how you would
successfully argue that in court; permission to "extract data from the
file" would include extracting *all* of the data from the file, AFAICT.
Once extracted, you can do anything you want with that data, including
assembling it into a new table, because copyright only covers
the *expression*, not the data itself.

-- 
Steve Langasek
postmodern programmer

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