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Re: GPL and command-line libraries

Anthony DeRobertis <asd@suespammers.org> writes:

> Måns Rullgård wrote:
>> Lewis Jardine <lewis@catbox.co.uk> writes:
>  >
>>>What is the correct term for a work that combines two other works,
>>>created without creative input?
>> An anthology, or a compilation, I think.
>  From Title 17, Sec 101:
> 	A ''collective work'' is a work, such as a periodical
> 	issue, anthology, or encyclopedia, in which a number of
> 	contributions, constituting separate and independent
> 	works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole.
> 	A ''compilation'' is a work formed by the collection
> 	and assembling of preexisting materials or of data
> 	that are selected, coordinated, or arranged in such a
> 	way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an
> 	original work of authorship. The term ''compilation''
> 	includes collective works.
> I don't think those are the appropriate terms; it would appear that a
> compilation (including collective works) need to be original works of
> authorship. That requires creative input.

Was the question concerning the term for a work consisting of other
works, each in itself the product of creative work (and thus
copyrightable), combined into a single work without any additional
creative work, or was the question for combination of parts which are
not by themselves copyrightable, combined without creative effort, or
a combination of non-creative parts in a creative fashion?

Producing a compilation may or may not involve creative work.  For
instance, in the production of a literary anthology, there may be
significant amounts of work in the selection of parts to include, as
well as their order.  In this case, the compilation might be protected
by copyright law.  On the other end, a collection consisting of all
works published during some specific time interval, is not the result
of creative work.

> If it isn't creative, it isn't a work under copyright law. See, e.g.,
> Fesit v. Rural Telephone Service, holdings (a) and
> (b). http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?navby=case&court=US&vol=499&invol=340

This case is about a telephone directory.  Quite obviously, each
individual entry cannot be considered a creative work (it is an
arbitrary number assigned to a name), and simply collecting all of
them is not considered to add any creative element.

> AFAICT, the output of the compiler is treated under copyright law the
> same way the source code would be; I supect the best term we have for
> this situation is "mere aggregation" of two seperate works. IOW, 'ld'
> in this case is performing the same function 'tar' normally would.

The compiler outputs a mechanical transformation of its input.  If the
input was covered by copyright, then the output will be as well,
otherwise it will not.  Mechanically transforming something does not
add any creative value, and hence does not alter the copyright status
of whatever is being transformed.  Mechanically combining two works
into one, as might be done by the linker, does not either add any
creative element.

Måns Rullgård

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