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Re: Re: A question about converting code to another programminglanguage


What about copyright to the translation when using f2c, is it the
authors of the f2c code?

In this case, unless f2c does things like replace certain fortran constructs with chunks of code large enough to be copyrightable, there is no copyright on the change. AFAICT the new version has the same copyright status as a printout of original code, which is annother form of mechanical translation.

Does the same apply for GPLed code? What if you convert GPLed code from
Fortran to C and add enhancements/functionality. Is the Copyright of the
new C code shared between the author of the old Fortran code and the
translator (assuming the translation is not literal). I assume that the
Copyright issues are easier to resolve for GNU code (i.e. where the
authors assign the rights to FSF).

The translation and new features has the exact same copyright status as if you just contributed featrures to the orginal, that is to say overal copyright = Copyright original + Copyright you. If the translation is literal then your copyright would cover only the new features. Otherwise your copyright includes any creativeness of the translation, plus the new features.

What if the code is old with a known author/institution but no author
can be found and no clear license is in the code.

That is no excuse. If the person/group with copyright never decides to sue for the infringment and the infringments that stem from it then all is fine. In the case you
descibe that may be a possibility. But you might want to be safer than that.

What about a clean-room implementation. Is it possible to have access to
the old source code (translation or not) when doing the implementation?

This would almost certainly not be clean-roon.

What about a running program in binary code and a users manual.

As long as you run the program only to see the output for various inputs, but do not
try to disassemble etc., this is probably clean-room.

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.

Does this case include GPL as well as LGPL code?

Yes the LGPL gives all rights of the GPL, and the GPL clearly gives
you the right to translate and translate back.


(The included text above is copy-pasted since I was not subscribed

Thanks, (different email address compared to above)
Svante Signell <svante.signell@telia.com>

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