[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Definitions of object code [Re: Free Art License]

On Thu, 2004-09-30 at 21:25, Glenn Maynard wrote:
> On Thu, Sep 30, 2004 at 08:24:46PM -0500, Joe Wreschnig wrote:
> > How do you feel about specifying what is *not* the preferred form of
> > modification ("object code", in GPL parlance)?
> It's likely to cause problems, too.
> > I've a number of documents that say "References to "object code" and
> > "executables" in the GNU GPL are to be interpreted as the output of any
> > document formatting or typesetting system, including intermediate and
> > printed output." Some of them I've written, but I borrowed the wording
> > from something else (I suspect in Debian), and I've encouraged people to
> > use this phrasing many times since.
> What if I take a man page, output it as plain text, and use that as source,
> modifying it, maintaining it, etc. and discarding the original manpage?  The
> GPL lets me do that; this "interpretation" does not.
> This "interpretation" doesn't follow from the GPL (which makes me cringe,
> remembering the times where people have tried to change the meaning of 
> licenses by "interpretating" them).
> It's non-free, in my opinion, since it prohibits the the above.

Okay. I think you are alone in this opinion, but that's just based on
the fact no one's ever expressed a problem with this before. I haven't
thought much about such a case, but my (tentative) position is that such
a use would not be allowed by the GPL even without this statement. In
particular the GPL talks about needing to do things to "files", and the
need for the source to be "machine-readable". Your source-on-paper, even
if it is the preferred form of modification, is neither a file nor
machine readable, so you can't meet the terms of the GPL anyway.

If there is a consensus that this is a non-free interpretation (and it
is an interpretation, regardless of how many scare quotes you use), then
we have some work ahead of us. I remembered where I got it from: the
standard Debian man page license header.

piman@yanagi:/usr/share/man$  zgrep 'formatting or typesetting system, including' */*.gz | wc -l

This includes critical things like errno(3), brk(2), and mount(8). So it
will not be trivial to fix, if it needs fixing.
Joe Wreschnig <piman@sacredchao.net>

Reply to: