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Re: What exactly is Derivative ?


Let me first, Paul, thank you for your elaborations on this subject. I think
it is very helpful, especially for people like me, who have little to none
education in this area.

Even so little things like the distinction between copyright law and
contract law are easily overlooked in the "heat of discussion", if you are
not used to them.

Beside this, I would like a bit clarfification. To make it short, I will
only focus on one point:

On Thu, Mar 25, 1999 at 03:56:38AM -0800, Paul Nathan Puri wrote:
> Courts enforce the copyright holders license.  Where the copyright holder
> licenses under the GPL, and the condition is that a derivative must be
> GPLed as well, the court can interpret according to a broad application of
> the meaning of derivative or a narrow one.  It will depend on the authors
> intentions and case law.  The case law is a vague mess; but if the authors
> intentions are not made clear the court will enforce the lincense in favor
> of the least responsible party under the circumstances.  Where the
> derivative author evidences intention to steal or subvert, the court will
> find in favor or the copyright holder.  But where the derivative author
> appears the victim of vague terms, the court will not seek to punish.

RMS is very actively pushing his intentions of the GPL. The GPL has a
preambel, he is giving talks about this subject, answers questions privately
and in public. It is hard to miss his opinions.

He is also explaining what he thinks of derivative works, especially in
conjunction with header files, libraries etc.

My question is: Does this make any difference? You don't say exactly, but in
your pro-GPL argument you speak about the social movement behind the GPL.
This seems to be similar, although not identically. Could I, as a copyright
holder, refer to RMS in this regard? Could the FSF (as copyright holder)
refer to its public relations on this topic?

> I think it is advisable for authors to add some lines to the GPL that
> pertains to his or her specific work.  Define the scope of derivative,
> make some terms more explicit.  Seek peer review of the license to be sure
> it complies with the spirit of the GPL.

This could also go wrong, in cases were people are not "legally trained". I
would not feel up to the tasks to define the terms in this way. Maybe this
is a useful addition for GPL 3.0 (if you are interested in this, AFAIK RMS
is always looking for ideas and critique. It would be pretty hard to
convince him that the GPL has flaws [[ because he needs to protect it ]],
but maybe he will at some time release GPL 3.1 or 2.1 or whatever.)

> Now you see how this license can be skewed to appear good and bad.  It
> looks worse under copyright law.  It looks better under contract law where
> the meanings of the terms are defined by industry standards.

I think I understand. I think the social protection of the GPL is much
stronger then the legalese in any way.
> I will do some research (I'm writing my IP paper on this subject) on how
> courts enforce software licenses of work upon which a derivative is made.
> I will post my results...


Again, thank you very much,

`Rhubarb is no Egyptian god.' Debian http://www.debian.org   finger brinkmd@ 
Marcus Brinkmann              GNU    http://www.gnu.org     master.debian.org
Marcus.Brinkmann@ruhr-uni-bochum.de                        for public  PGP Key
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