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Re: GPL on rendered images

On Mon, Dec 13, 2004 at 04:27:01PM -0800, Don Armstrong wrote:
> So in this case, if you had someone else take a GPLed work, modify it
> it, compiled it and give it to you, then you made some trivial
> modifications to the binary, and then only distributed the unmodified
> binary as source you would be ok?
> I'd argue very strongly that you wouldn't be ok, and I would suspect
> that the authors of the GNU GPL would feel similarly. Intermediate
> modification of a work in a different form from the original form is
> not a valid method to get around the prefered source requirement.

If that's *really* my preferred form for modification.  It probably
isn't, and making a couple trivial modifications to the program is
probably not sufficient to indicate that it is.

A more likely scenario: you write a program in Pascal, and give it
to me.  Pascal is a useless language, so I programmatically convert
it to C (a fairly simple task), and then spend a few weeks improving
the program in C.  The Pascal code may be useful for reference, but
it is no longer the source to the resulting work, neither by my
instinctive opinion of "source" nor by the "preferred form for
modification" metric.  I don't believe I would be in violation of the
GPL to distribute the resulting binaries with only the C code, and not
the Pascal code.  I believe this is a strength of this definition of
"source", not a weakness.

> Still, you should strongly consider distributing it, especially if
> this lossless encoding is necessary to make further modificatins to
> the work in place. For example, if you were to make a different cut of
> the video, would you go back to the original lossless encoding? Or
> would you use an intermediate encoding?
> This will enable subsequent people to actually perform the
> modifications necessary to improve your work. Consider how your
> collaborators would be able to function if you fell off the face of
> the planet and took your lossless encoding with you?

Not feasible is not feasible.  I can reasonably distribute five megs of
video; I can not reasonably distribute five hundred megs of video.  The
cost vs. benefit of including massive source videos for a compressed video
is infintessimal compared to that of including source code for a program,
since the cost of distributing the source is so extreme.  (And I live in
the US, with an unmetered cable modem; the cost is orders of magnitude
higher in some parts of the world.)

Similarly, I can reasonably check a few megs of video into CVS, but I
certainly can't check in a few hundred megs (and the situation is much
worse with Subversion, which essentially can't delete old revisions).

I certainly wouldn't GPL the video.  All that would do would prevent
anyone from mirroring it--getting mirrors for an interesting five or ten
megabyte video is a lot harder when you tack on a "... and you must make
these hundreds of megabytes of source available as well".

Glenn Maynard

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