Posted Feb 14, 2006 19:30 UTC (Tue) by sepreece
In reply to: GPL useless?
Parent article: FSF: GPLv3 Update #2
There are many kinds of dependency and use that do not make a piece of software (or hardware) a derivative work under copyright law. There is also a fair amount of uncertainty about exactly what does make one piece of software a derivative work of another.
Using published interfaces of a work is very unlikely to create a derivative work, since the interfaces are functional (rather than expressive) and therefore out of the scope of copyright law.
However, the specific boundaries are case law and subject to interpretation.
Linux-based embedded devices typically include Linux (sometimes modified to suit the hardware), device drivers (possibly standard ones, possibly specific to the hardware), and a set of device-specific applications. In the case of a Linux-based phone, for instance, all the code that makes it a phone is application code that just runs on top of Linux, using standard interfaces.
However, GPLv3 draft 1 goes beyond the scope of copyright in the restrictions it imposes. It says, in effect, that if you want to distribute the GPLv3ed work, you must satisfy those restrictions, which seem to include the ability to update the GPLv3ed software and have the device behave the same as it did before. One could argue about whether that restriction includes the operation of other software embedded in the device.
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