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Re: license question

From: Arle Lommel
Subject: Re: license question
Date: Tue, 21 Jan 2020 15:23:15 -0500

From: David Nalesnik <address@hidden>
Subject: license question

Hi all,

I have a question concerning the GPL.  Is it permissible for an app
under a GPL-incompatible license to provide output in LilyPond code?
For example, could Finale provide a Finale->LilyPond converter even
though the mechanics are shrouded in mystery?



I am not a lawyer, but this question closely aligns with issues related to those currently before the US Supreme Court in Google v. Oracle.

With that preamble, here is my understanding:

A converter is not reproducing code. No license from the GLP project applies to it because you are not reproducing licensed code. The converter produces a textual representation of music, and this representation itself is not subject to the GPL terms. *Anything* can generate that code because no copyright applies to a method, which is what an abstract process for going from something like g4^. to a graphic representation of a staccato G quarter note is.

Also note that if someone wanted to write a clean-room interpreter or converter for Lilypond code that did not use any GPL code, that should be legal as well, because methods are not subject to copyright (although code is) and a Lilypond input file is a call to methods, not to code (although those methods are instantiated in code).

So there is really no reason you couldn’t create a Finale>Lilypond converter. The license of Lilypond itself wouldn’t matter to you in this regard because you wouldn’t be reproducing GPL code. You could in turn choose any license for the code of your converter.


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