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WordPress, themes, and derivative works

WordPress, themes, and derivative works

Posted Aug 1, 2010 11:51 UTC (Sun) by marcH (subscriber, #57642)
In reply to: WordPress, themes, and derivative works by dlang
Parent article: WordPress, themes, and derivative works

> he's not saying that the GPL has a poor legal basis, just that the FSF definition of a derivitive work hoes beyond where it has a good legal basis.

Yes, sorry. In this context I was abusively using "GPL" instead of: "the GPL difference compared to the LGPL".

> the idea that software A could be considered derived from library B one day (because it only works with library B), and then the next day someone releases library C with the same interface as library B changing the status of Software A to no longer be considered a derivative work of library B (because it now works with both library B and library C) seems like nonsense to me.

Yes it would be nonsense.

What makes perfect sense however (whether it is legally correct or not) is that the status of software A in your example does not actually change. Because everything in your example is derived from library B, including library C since it is cloning B. I am not saying this is legally correct (I am not a lawyer). But it is simple, logical, consistent and makes sense.

(Note: this originated in http://lwn.net/Articles/394889/)


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WordPress, themes, and derivative works

Posted Aug 1, 2010 21:22 UTC (Sun) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

it would make sense that the status of software A didn't change, but people are claiming that software A must be a derivitive of library B due to the fact that there is no other library that it works with, if there was another library then it may not be a derivitive of software B.

this is what isn't logical, and as others point out, is a very dangerous precedence to set.

it would make all free software that was written for windows derived from windows (because that's the only OS it was written for), it would make linux derived from Intel's 386 chip (because that's what it was designed to run on), it would give apple exactly the control that they want over all software written for the iphone, etc

such results would be nonsense, but the same logic that you are claiming for the situation where there is no code copied from a library into an applications source code would lead to these conclusions as well.

I may have missed something, but I haven't seen any court cases that implied or stated that this is valid logic to follow, and there are court cases (like the recent 'jailbreaking a phone is ok' case) that point the other way.

as i said before, besides being a dangerous precedence to set, I don't think it's needed, in part because I haven't see anyone try to use it (in anything other than public threats)

WordPress, themes, and derivative works

Posted Aug 2, 2010 23:37 UTC (Mon) by marcH (subscriber, #57642) [Link]

> but people are claiming that software A must be a derivitive of library B due to the fact that there is no other library that it works with, if there was another library then it may not be a derivitive of software B.

"Is there an alternative implementation?" is indeed not a rigorous way to express this "test". The real question is: "Is the API of library B an original, copyrighted creation of B?" (assuming that a copyright on just an API can be legal - but please let's not start over).

> this is what isn't logical, and as others point out, is a very dangerous precedence to set.

"Logical", "legal" and "dangerous" are different things. Please avoid mixing them in the very same sentence, otherwise it looks like your reasoning is not sheer but tainted by your agenda.

> it would make all free software that was written for windows derived from windows

Yes. But since Microsoft licenses are absolutely not using the concept of "derived work" like the GPL does, this would be a very different story. (about this difference see other posts above)

> (because that's the only OS it was written for)

Not really, but rather because: win32 and other MS APIs are original, copyrighted creations of Microsoft.

WordPress, themes, and derivative works

Posted Aug 3, 2010 1:25 UTC (Tue) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

if using the API makes it a derivative work, then glibc is a derivative work of libc because they both implement the same API

all iphone apps are derivative works of the iphone OS as it created the API (This is something that Apple would love to have be the case, that way they could use copyright and the DMCA to ban anything from running on the iphone without their approval)

what's even worse is trying to say that using the API in one way (static linking) makes a derivative work, but in another way (dynamic linking) does not. Given that there is no difference in the creative work involved (writing the new program), only in the mechanical step of creating the binary.

The example of apple above is why I say that winning the definition war would be dangerous. It could get even worse than that example. Microsoft has now licensed the ARM core, so they may an ARM device that has a custom chip (in the ARM world you have the core and a bunch of things that can be combined together and manufactured as one chip), and then set the license for the chip API to exclude GPL code. They could even do it in an 'accidental' fashion like the Sun CDDL does.

some free software advocates are so eager to get legal tools in their hands to beat on proprietary software vendors that they don't stop to think how those same tools could be used against free software.

WordPress, themes, and derivative works

Posted Aug 5, 2010 10:07 UTC (Thu) by rqosa (subscriber, #24136) [Link]

> what's even worse is trying to say that using the API in one way (static linking) makes a derivative work, but in another way (dynamic linking) does not. Given that there is no difference in the creative work involved (writing the new program), only in the mechanical step of creating the binary.

But there is a difference: the statically-linked binary includes (parts of) the library. If you distribute the binary, you're also distributing (parts of) the library. It's less clear whether the dynamically-linked binary contains any parts of the library; if there are things like inline functions or template functions in the .h files, it probably does, but otherwise…

(However, PHP code is distributed in source form, and it seems pretty clear that source code that merely contains a call to "require_once()" isn't necessarily a derived work.)

WordPress, themes, and derivative works

Posted Aug 6, 2010 8:42 UTC (Fri) by dlang (subscriber, #313) [Link]

in all cases you may be distributing the library, so it's not a matter of if you are distributing it, but rather if your program becomes a derivative work if you use one method of linking, but not if you use a different one.

since linking is not a creative task, I don't see how it could create anything that's protectable by copyright.


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