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Re: A question about converting code to another programming language

On Saturday 23 July 2005 02:40 am, Arnoud Engelfriet wrote:
> svante@imit.kth.se wrote:
> > I have a few questions about software developement. One of them is
> > whether a program written in e.g. Fortran by me or somebody else (who
> > owns the copyright) is converted to C (not f2c). How is copyright changed
> > and what about patent issues (maybe not relevant).
> 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.

To be clear, if someone translates something from Language A to Language B, 
they do not hold a copyright in the Language B version.  What they hold is a 
copyright in the expression that is the translation.  This is important 
because the translator cannot authorize the translation from Language B to 
Language C, as he does not control the copyright to the underlying work on 
which any translation effort is based.

This, of course, is the default rule and can be circumvented with good 
licensing allowing the translator to have full control over their 
derivative...  but outside of a copyleft context, I can't imagine an author 
wanting a translator to have the authority to translate back into the initial 
language and sell competing versions.


Sean Kellogg
3rd Year - University of Washington School of Law
Graduate & Professional Student Senate Treasurer
UW Service & Activities Committee Interim Chair 
w: http://probonogeek.blogspot.com

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