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Re: Illustrating JVM bindings

On Thu, Jan 20, 2005 at 03:22:55AM -0800, Michael K. Edwards wrote:
> When combining the two is a mechanical operation, the combination is
> not separately copyrightable, and hence is not a derivative work.

Unless [of course] they were already a derivative work, for some other

> Nor is the program a derivative work by itself if it uses a published
> functional interface to the library.

I'd say this differently.  The program is not a derivative work of
the library if it was written without any of the relevant copyrighted
material of that library.

"A published functional interface" is a easily recongizable and legit
way for a program to be written so that the program uses the library
even though the program was written without using the library.  Here,
there's other material under a different copyright (the spec [obviously],
but also the library headers and a library implementation).

> That's the upshot of the case law as I understand it, although you
> have to combine a number of precedents to get there.  Here's one from
> the First Circuit that I haven't cited previously, which is pretty
> much a slam-dunk:  Lotus v. Borland 1995 (
> http://www.law.cornell.edu/copyright/cases/49_F3d_807.htm ).
> <quote>
> We also note that in most contexts, there is no need to "build" upon
> other people's expression, for the ideas conveyed by that expression
> can be conveyed by someone else without copying the first author's
> expression.  In the context of methods of operation, however,
> "building" requires the use of the precise method of operation already
> employed; otherwise, "building" would require dismantling, too. 
> Original developers are not the only people entitled to build on the
> methods of operation they create; anyone can.  Thus, Borland may build
> on the method of operation that Lotus designed and may use the Lotus
> menu command hierarchy in doing so.
> </quote>

It's probably worth noting that Borland did this without using any
lotus library (or headers, and probably without reference to any formal
specification), and they certainly weren't being sued for using any such
library inappropriately.

Since the GPL restricts distribution of itself at violation time, this
idea of "function isn't copyrightable" isn't going to solve all the
problems faced by someone violating the GPL.


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