One big reason for having to avoid creating a derivative work is when you want to introduce a product that includes both GPL code and something that's patented by a third party.
This kind of thing can be tricky for Free Software projects too -- look at the legal section of the GStreamer FAQ.
Is it better to use, and possibly help improve, some GPL code, or have to get a proprietary alternative to everything because you have to get a patent license for one component?
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