code and design

johnston at johnston at
Mon May 3 16:26:16 UTC 1999

> can a distinction be made between the code that goes into an
> opensource project under gnu gpl and the interface and/or artwork
> that comprises what the user sees and interacts with.  if the code
> specifies a novel interface, how can a gpl'd project protect the
> design from commercial scavenging?  can it? should it?

I believe the Free Software Foundation does make this distiniction,
and is opposed to the application of copyright to interfaces of any
kind.  They boycotted Apple for trying to copyright the user interface
of the Macintosh.  They came out with a relaxed version of the GPL
that allowed for API re-use (the LGPL), perhaps, at least in part,
because it must have been evident that enforcing the terms of the GPL
against the interface of a library led to a philosophical

Scott Johnston
Vectaport Inc.

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