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Re: A question about converting code to another programming language

* Arnoud Engelfriet:

> If the transformation from Fortran to C involves creative activity,
> then the person who did the transformation may hold a copyright in
> the C-version. Compare a translation from French to English of a
> book. If it's just a literal translation, then the translator has
> no copyright. 

"Literal" in this context means simple word substition, not the usual
sense of "literal translation".  If the original work is
copyrightable, the translation very likely is as well.

> This does not affect the original copyright in the Fortran version.


> And the translator needs permission to create this derivative work.


> If the original program infringes on a patent, then the
> transformed program will also infringe. Patents cover
> functionality, not specific programs. 

It's possible that the patent refers to specific FORTRAN constructs,
such as storage layout of arrays, or syntactic elements of the
language.  This may bite you in the other direction, too.

In short, no general answer to this question is possible.  Usually,
it's not even possible if you are confronted with specific
patents. 8-(

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