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Re: Bug#189164: libdbd-mysql-perl uses GPL lib, may be used by GPL-incompatible apps

On Friday, May 23, 2003, at 03:30 PM, Brian T. Sniffen wrote:

 but given
their authors licensed them in ways that forbid linking with
non-GPL-compatible software, such as OpenSSL, that sounds reasonable

Well, at least you're consistent ;-)

Wait.  Isn't dpkg under the GPL?  Now everything on the entire system
has to be under the GPL, because you can't even get it installed without
the use of dpkg.

I don't see how a program which merely happened to be installed using
dpkg can be said to be a derivative work of dpkg,

Well, he is going a little far. But certainly the postinst, preinst, postrm, etc. files would have to be, as Debian distributes them in such a way to force dpkg to link them (by executing them). That would mean that everything used in those scripts has to be GPL-compatible.

All of those --
TCP, HTTP, and DEB -- are generic formats.

.deb isn't. There is, AFAIK, only one implementation.

BTW: If the documentation in the policy manual makes it a standard, why doesn't the documentation in the GNU grep manpage, info page, etc. make it a standard, too?

If he,
in his creation, is intentionally deriving creative ideas from the
author of a previous work, his work is derivative.

The only thing I'm deriving from in, e.g., grep is, if anything:
	1) its command line interface
	2) its functionality

In Lotus Development Corp. v. Borland International, Inc.,[0] the court held that a menu structure is method of operation. Methods of operation are, by statute, not copyrightable. To quote the decision:

    We think that "method of operation," as that term is used
    in 102(b), refers to the means by which a person operates
    something, whether it be a car, a food processor, or a

    We hold that the Lotus menu command hierarchy is an
    uncopyrightable "method  of  operation." The Lotus menu
    command hierarchy provides the means by which users control
    and operate Lotus 1-2-3. .... Users must use the command
    terms to tell the computer what to do.  Without the menu
    command hierarchy, users would not be able to access and
    control, or indeed make  use of,  Lotus 1-2-3's functional

    The Lotus  menu command hierarchy  does not  merely explain
    and present Lotus 1-2-3's functional capabilities to the
    user; it also serves as the  method by which the program
    is operated and controlled.

I think its clear that the logic applies at least as much to a command line interface. Indeed, the court even says "If specific words are essential to operating something, then they are part of a 'method of operation' and, as such, are unprotectable. This is so whether they must be highlighted, typed in, or even spoken, as computer programs no doubt will soon be controlled by spoken words."[1] Note that the court did not say that it was copyright infringement but fair use. Instead, it said that menu command hierarchies are not copyrightable. So no use --- programatic or otherwise --- can infringe the copyright, as there is no copyright. Thus, it can't be (1) above.

As for (2), Title 17 USC Sec. 102(b) seems to fairly clearly say that can't be protected by copyright, either:
    In no case does copyright protection for an original work of
    authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system,
    method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery,
    regardless of the form in which it is described, explained,
    illustrated, or embodied in such work
In other words, what grep does can't be protected by copyright. Only the expression can be. So I can't be creating a derivative work of what grep does.

[0] http://www.kuesterlaw.com/borlan2.html
[1] IMO, this is a potential reason for that anti-spam haiku to fail if
    seriously challenged in court if mass adoption occurs.

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