Re: European Directive on Copyright Law (91/EC/250) wrt open source
Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton wrote:
I can't read this. Got it in English?
> this document outlines the circumstances under which copyright
> holders effectively forfeit their copyright
> and the sections that
> i wish to draw to your attention are the ones concerning "interfaces"
> and "interoperability at interfaces".
> under 91/EC/250, interfaces are exempt from copyright law if the
> developers of the code and/or hardware will not grant a license
> for interoperability purposes.
> even reverse engineering is allowed and catered for - but for
> interoperation only, not for people to find out trade secrets such
> as faster implementations.
This indicates the intended meaning.
> the reason why i am bring this up on debian-legal is because there
> may come a time when either one open source project approaches another,
> or a proprietary company approaches an open source project (controlled
> by debian) and requests a license from the copyright holders in
> order that their proprietary (or open source project with an
> incompatible license) project interoperate with that otherwise
> incompatible project.
> now, i am aware that a number of open source projects DELIBERATELY
> release libraries under the GPL in order to force people to release
> their code under the GPL, too.
> where such libraries could be construed to have "interfaces", and
> where the GPL is used to force a monopoly position, then any company
> or open source project with an incompatible license is entitled to
> request a compatible license and if they do not receive one they
> are entitled to treat the "interface" - i.e. the header files and
> effectively the entire library -
I don't think this is right. In most cases, I can't see how the 'entire
library' can possibly be construed as an 'interface'. They would be able
to use the library much as if it was under the LGPL, but not much more --
they would not be able to modify the internals without running into
It is unlikely that interfaces are copyrightable in the first place. And
there is some question as to the validity of the FSF's belief that dynamic
linking creates a derivative work.
> this is _exactly_ the sort of thing that is compatible with the
> EU directive on copyright law, whereas the GPL most clearly is not.
It looks like the directive is intended to apply narrowly. Given that, I
suspect that the it would not be used to invalidate the GPL as a whole. If
it simply means that it will treat certain uses along the same lines as
"fair use" in the US or "fair dealing" in the UK, as not subject to the
copyright monopoly, then the GPL will presumably be held to apply only to
those uses subject to copyright restrictions (the GPL as much as says that
that's how it should be interpreted).
There are none so blind as those who will not see.