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Re: ITP:Bug#460591 - Falcon P.L. license

On Wednesday 19 March 2008 03:10:07 pm Francesco Poli wrote:
> I don't think that copyright laws give you the right to control
> distribution of "Scripts", that is to say, works written in your
> programming language.
> For instance, I don't think I need permission from anyone in order to
> write (original) C++ code and distribute it as I like.

This is an interesting claim and I think is far from clear cut. If I develop a 
comprehensive grammar and syntax for a language (programming or otherwise) 
what elements are required for others to use "speak" it and to what extent 
can I protect/restrict the use of those elements? The first obvious answer is 
that the language is an idea, and thus patentable. I don't think that's a 
point of contention here, but worth noting that one can certainly restrict 
the use of a language via a patent.

But, if we keep our analysis to just copyright protection, I'm still not sure 
it's a slam dunk depending on factors. Here I'm thinking of libraries which 
may be necessary for the script to run... like libc. Sure, I can just write C 
code, but it's pretty useless without libc... and if I incorporate a version 
of libc with a restrictive license, then I'm certainly going to have to 
comply with the copyright restrictions of that license.

There's even the question of how someone goes about learning the language... 
presumably by example (that's how I've learned most other languages). Can I 
create a work that is not derivative of those examples and thus under the 
preview of copyright law?

This would have made a fun topic to write about in law school :)


Sean Kellogg
e: skellogg@gmail.com

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