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Re: GPL on rendered images

Joe Moore <joemoore@iegrec.org> writes:

> Glenn Maynard wrote:
>> 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.
> As I understand it, programmatically converting the Pascal code to C
> does not introduce any creative element. So as far as copyright is
> concerned, the C code is the exact same work as the Pascal code.
> (Just as the object or executable code is the same Original Work)

No, it's a mechanical transformation.  Slightly different.  The
copyright interest is identical, though.

> You own the copyright of modifications (assuming they are a creative
> work), that is: in the elements of the derived work that you created,
> as well as in the creative combination of your works with that of the
> Original Work.
> In order to distribute the derivative work, you must distribute under
> the terms of the GPL.  That means that you must include (or offer) the
> "preferred form for modification".
> The preferred form for the Original work is Pascal.  The preferred
> form for the new (combined/derived) work is C.  I think you would need
> to distribute both to comply with the GPL.

No.  You do not need to distribute source for the original work, only
for your modified work.  If you needed to distribute source for the
original, then many elisp files would need to include the entire
source for Emacs!

Also, the Linux kernel would be carrying around source for every
previous version in each source tarball.

> Another way to look at it is:
> The Original Work has its "preferred form" set in the GPL at license
> time by the Original Author as Pascal code.  Since you can't change
> the license, you can't distribute the Original Work (as embodied in
> parts of derivative works) without that form.

This is unpersuasive for the reasons mentioned above.

Brian Sniffen                                       bts@alum.mit.edu

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