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Re: hx should be removed from the distribution unless copyright is clarified

On Sat, Dec 09, 2000 at 07:24:23PM -0800, Aaron Lehmann wrote:
> http://cr.yp.to/softwarelaw.html, and it basically says that rights to
> run or modify the software, but not distribute patches to it. This might
> be acceptable for non-free, except that debian packaging is basically
> a patch. 

I think you're misinterpreting the page on which you base your conclusion
that it's not OK to distribute hx. The page reads (in part):

  Note that, since it's not copyright infringement for you to apply a patch,
  it's also not copyright infringement for someone to give you a patch. For
  example, Galoob's Game Genie, which patches the software in Nintendo
  cartridges, does not infringe Nintendo's copyrights. `Having paid Nintendo
  a fair return, the consumer may experiment with the product and create new
  variations of play, for personal enjoyment, without creating a derivative
  work.'' Galoob v. Nintendo, 780 F. Supp 1283 (N.D. Cal. 1991), affirmed,
  22 U.S.P.Q.2d 1587 (9th Cir. 1992). See also Foresight v. Pfortmiller, 719
  F.  Supp 1006 (D. Kan. 1989).

Distributing a context-free patch like what's produced by diff -C 0 or like
what's contained in the Galoob Game Genie is not copyright infringement.
Even the act of including context such as is present in a normal context
diff could be considered a fair use of the copyrighted original work.

> I think the same issues apply for qmail, but do not know what descision
> was arrived at with that particular package.

Since the binaries created by compiling a source tree with patches applied
are a derived work of both the original code and the patches, distribution
of binaries must be permitted by the copyright holders for both the patch
and the original source code tree. Since the copyright holder for qmail does
not permit binaries to be distributed except under very limited
circumstances, we distribute the qmail source only and a patch in non-free.

Note that in order to put the unmodified source in non-free, the copyright
holder must have at least given permission to distribute unmodified copies.

Brian Ristuccia

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