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?
Inst. f. Biochemie der Univ. Zürich