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Re: GPL: meaning of "independent and separate works"

Brian Kimball <bfk@footbag.org> writes:

> (GPL, section 2):
> > If identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the
> > Program, and can be reasonably considered independent and separate
> > works in themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to
> > those sections when you distribute them as separate works.
> Does US copyright law provide special legal definitions of 'independent'
> and 'separate' or are these used in the technical sense of the words?

The GPL already tells you.  It's appealing to the "reasonable man"

> In other words, suppose I a) add a special switch to GNU's 'cp' that no
> other 'cp' has, b) write a shell script that calls this 'cp' and uses
> that switch, and then c) distribute the modified version of 'cp' and the
> script together.  Then my script would, technically speaking, be
> dependent on the 'cp' that I distributed, which is GPLed.  So if
> 'independent' is used in the technical sense then my script would need
> to be GPLed, I assume, even though it is solely my own work and is not a
> derivate work of any GPLed program.

I don't know what "technical" sense you mean.  Your script is a
derived work at that point, because of the modifications you made to
cp; you have (depending on the details of the changes) perhaps created
one larger program.  The question is "would a reasonable man think
they were independent or not?"


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