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GPL as a license for documentation: What about derived works?


please point me to an older thread if this has been discussed before, I
didn't find it in the archives.

Let's assume a piece of technical documentation (standalone, i.e not
part of a software package; something like selfhtml or LaTeX's lshort),
is licensed under GPL, with an additional text stating what the
preferred form for modification is (say, LaTeX or docbook).

As I understand it, anybody can take the text and publish it as a
printed book, as long as he also prints where the source code can be
found (GPL clause 3.b or 3.c). If he creates a derived work - for
example by extending each chapter, but keeping the structure and most of
the original text - he has to license that under GPL, too (and thus
provide the source code).

I have two questions

1. The first is whether there are any established criteria by which the
   creation of a derived work can be distinguished from mere aggregation.

   I assume that if a book on the technical aspects of computer
   typesetting would include, as an appendix, a GPL'ed text on
   typography, this would be only aggregation. At least if typographical
   questions don't play a role in the rest of the text.

   But what if there are extensive references to specific parts of the
   appendix in the text? What if it is a chapter in that book?

2. I fail to find the right technical or juridical terms here, but I
   guess in most jurisdictions it is allowed to cite other texts, or to
   publish a book that discusses some text in detail (like
   interpretation of a poem, or detailed rebuttal of a scientific
   paper). In such a case, the book would not exist without prior
   existence of the original text. Would such a thing be regarded a
   derived work, and would therefore a text published under GPL impose
   restrictions that would not hold for a text published without a
   license, simply in printed form?

TIA, Frank

Frank Küster
Inst. f. Biochemie der Univ. Zürich
Debian Developer

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