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Re: transformations of 'source code'

Nick Phillips said:
> On Thu, Mar 06, 2003 at 06:06:23PM -0500, Branden Robinson wrote:
>> If it's lossy, it can't be transformation; instead it is modfication.
> Basically the forms can be judged according to their purpose. The source
> form is the preferred form for making modifications. The object form is
> the form suitable for use in the intended function of the work, and an
> "encoded or translated" form which retains the meaning of the original
> source (i.e. it is still sufficient to achieve the object of the
> original source) should be OK to distribute, provided that the
> translation or encoding is reversible.

Unfortunately, intent is one of the hardest things to prove in court.

> Non-reversible (i.e. obfuscated or encrypted in such a way that the
> recipient cannot recover useful source) should not be allowed

I think the key there is _useful_ source.  Obfuscated forms that can not
be turned back into useful source should not be allowed.  Encypted forms
(if the recipient doesn't have the key) don't give useful source.

Changing the author's preference of 8-spaces for indenting to 1-tab still
gives useful source (even if the author wasn't consistant and information
about the fact that function foo() only was indented 5 spaces, is lost)

> I'm just slightly stuck on defining exactly why obfuscation (which does
> retain meaning) is not OK but (in my view at least) translation into a
> foreign language (which retains meaning but, whilst reversible, is not
> quite losslessly so) is OK.
> I don't think that losslessness is the right criterion, rather something
> connected to the meaning of the source and the achievability of the
> source's object.

Can have useful source recovered from it, in a form that is <something>
for modification?

I can't think of the <something> to put there.  It's not preferable, it's
not easy, it's not acceptable... Any thoughts?

This requirement, while totally inadequate from a legal perspective, also
explains the foreign language:  Speakers of the foreign language get
useful source from the transformations, and a second translation can get
useful source back into the original language.


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