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Re: [ROFL] GCC's GPLv3 "Updated License Exception"

From: Barry Margolin
Subject: Re: [ROFL] GCC's GPLv3 "Updated License Exception"
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009 22:57:17 -0500
User-agent: MT-NewsWatcher/3.5.3b3 (Intel Mac OS X)

In article <%4Egl.91026$1k1.79030@newsfe14.iad>,
 Hyman Rosen <> wrote:

> 7 wrote:
> > The output of a CD player is music and a derivative of the CD's binary
> > data held within and the music is protected by copyright.
> > 
> > The output of GCC are code structures that have been hand coded
> > by someone with copyright over the way its been put together.
> > When gcc produces its output, that output is legally protected
> > by copyright because it embodies their hand crafted work.
> Please see <>, for example:
>      A ³derivative work,² that is, a work that is based on
>      (or derived from) one or more already existing works,
>      is copyrightable if it includes what the copyright law
>      calls an ³original work of authorship.²
> The consistent (and apparently deliberate) error made by the FSF is
> to disregard the "original work of authorship" requirement. The
> circular also goes on to say:
>      Compilations and abridgments may also be copyrightable if
>      they contain new work of authorship. When the collecting of
>      the preexisting material that makes up the compilation is a
>      purely mechanical task with no element of editorial selection,
>      or when only a few minor deletions constitute an abridgment,
>      copyright protection for the compilation or abridgment as a
>      new version is not available.
> Thus: the inclusion of runtime library code in the output of a
> program does not create a derivative work because there has been
> no original work of authorship involved in the creation of the
> output. When the output contains pieces of runtime library code
> it might be considered a compilation, but since the output has
> literally been generated by a purely mechanical task, it is not
> eligible for copyright protection as a compilation.
> It may still be possible to craft a license restriction on the
> runtime library code that will make things behave in the way the
> FSF would like, though.

I believe the choice of library to incorporate is an "original work of 
authorship".  Linking a set of object files and libraries is analogous 
to creating an anthology in traditional literature.

The "purely mechanical" exception comes from a case involving a 
telephone directory.  There's no creative authorship in taking an 
existing database of names, addresses, and phone numbers and printing 
them out alphabetically.

Barry Margolin,
Arlington, MA
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