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Re: generated source files, GPL and DFSG

On 7/19/05, Matthew Garrett <mgarrett@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
[an assessment with which I agree almost 100%]

The game "GFingerPoken" (which I have played and really quite enjoy)
is definitely a "derivative work" of its artwork.  It's a complex work
that integrally incorporates substantial portions of a previous (or
contemporaneous) work, itself capable of standing alone as a work of
authorship.  That is, in fact, what "derivative work" does mean under
copyright law (especially 17 USC), as opposed to all of the other
things that the FSF claims it might mean.

As I've written previously on d-l, "derivative works" are a particular
subset of "works requiring authorization from the copyright holder on
the original", defined in 17 USC 101 principally for the sake of the
"derivative works" exceptions to the termination clauses in sections
203 and 304.  The artwork in GFingerPoken bears precisely the
relationship to the game that a song bears to a movie of which it
forms part of the soundtrack, and that's the relationship that
Congress had in mind as the principal application of those exceptions.
 Citations to the House Report and the appellate record at
http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2005/06/msg00116.html .

I think the usage of "source code" in the DFSG bears a closer
resemblance to "the author's preferred form for modification" a la GPL
than Matthew seems to.  But while that might present a problem for the
X.org nv driver, IMHO GFingerPoken is as he says in the clear.  There
exist perfectly good tools in main for creating alternate versions of
the XPM artworks, and I find it quite implausible that recipients
engaged in "bug fixing" would be any less able to do a good job using
the XPMs than using the povray input.

This is not like massaging the output of a non-free yacc variant
instead of porting to bison -y.  povray is not a parser generator,
treating its output as part of the source tarball does not
meaningfully impair the maintainability of the program, and it's
stupid to exclude a program from main (i. e., from Debian) simply
because upstream was unusually forthcoming about how he created
artwork that doesn't look like my one-year-old drew it.

- Michael

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