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

On Fri, Jan 28, 2005 at 09:49:08PM +0100, Frank K?ster wrote:
> 1. The first is whether there are any established criteria by which the
>    creation of a derived work can be distinguished from mere aggregation.

Literally 'no', but more practically 'kinda'.

More precisely, there is a *vast* amount of precedent and case law on
the subject of what does and does not constitute derivation in
literature. It doesn't qualify as 'established criteria' because this
is highly subjective. Courts try to be consistent but ultimately there
are limits.

Since software is usually classified as literature by law, we (and the
courts) usually refer to this stuff when talking about derivation in
software - there's far less case law about software directly, but the
same ideas are applied. So it's kinda similar-in-reverse - because
software is like literature, not the other way around.

Music rather than literature, but here's a couple of crazy cases where
something strangely was considered infringement via derivation:


And where something equally strangely was not:


You probably won't have much luck reconciling these two decisions on
anything but a purely subjective basis.

>    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?

You *really* want to feed that sort of thing to a lawyer of some
kind. It's borderline so it's going to be driven by applicable case
law, which means proper research. We can't really deal with that sort
of thing.

> 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?

Citation (as used in research papers) is not derivation, nor is
quotation (as used in literary criticism) for the purpose of
commentary, because the research and literary lobbies have a moderate
amount of weight. Anything more *might* be.

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
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