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Re: LPPL and source-less distribution

On 6/11/05, Jonathan Fine <jfine@pytex.org> wrote:
> I think the FSF may have already asked a lawyer this question.
> In the LGPL we read:
> ===
>    When a program is linked with a library, whether statically or using
> a shared library, the combination of the two is legally speaking a
> combined work, a derivative of the original library.  The ordinary
> General Public License therefore permits such linking only if the
> entire combination fits its criteria of freedom.  The Lesser General
> Public License permits more lax criteria for linking other code with
> the library.
> ===

The FSF is not in the business of giving truthful advice about the
law.  There is no such thing in law as a "combined work", and it is
not true that any mechanical operation creates a derivative work.  Not
compiling, not automated translation, not static linking, not dynamic
linking.  The only thing that creates a derivative work is a
substantial amount of new creative expression.  And when that creative
expression is in the nature of "selection and arrangement" (as in the
case of a distribution CD), it's a collective work, not a derivative

Compare Woods v. Bourne at
http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/circs/2nd/947421.html , in which
neither the difference between a composer's "lead sheet" and the
published piano-vocal arrangement, nor the changes made to the
arrangement for subsequent performances (up to and including a rewrite
of the bass line in the piano), rose to the level of originality
required to create a "derivative work".

> For the benefit of that list, 'latex.fmt' is a dumped execution
> state of a program, namely TeX, which can be reloaded at high speed.
> Inputs to the creation of latex.fmt include program files, such
> as latex.ltx, font metric files, and hyphenation tables.

latex.fmt is, for copyright purposes, the same as the set of works
that go into making it; it's just a convenient functional form for
those works.  And to the extent that several independent works wind up
hashed together in latex.fmt, it's still not a new copyrightable work.
 If there is a creative criterion involved in "selecting and
arranging" the inputs (say, you choose a set of font metric files that
facilitate harmonious visual puns a la Scott Kim), then the set of
inputs might be copyrightable as a collective work, and that
collective work would be among the works copied into latex.fmt.

- Michael

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