can GPL apply to more than source and object code?

Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M. rod at
Sat Mar 25 23:59:02 UTC 2000

Yes, there is a good discussion on the link you provided.

My soapbox: I would add that many of these licenses do not seem to
appreciate nuances in language that a judge may find awfully important. The
"kludge" factor comes from copying the content of other licenses without an
appreciation for the legal significance of certain words. Having said that,
I am not suggesting that every license must be drafted from scratch by a
lawyer. When someone refers you to a license for your own use, read the
words carefully and do not use words you do not understand. Ask someone. I
strongly suggest this because I think it would be quite depresssing to see
the open source movement weakened because too many of the very licenses the
movement relies upon had been poorly drafted.

My point: Copyright protects original WORKS of authorship. Computer software
programs are subject to copyright protection. One aspect of a computer
program (often referred to as the literal aspect) is the source code and
object code. The Work is the program, which may include graphics, song and a
number of other non-literal aspects. Consequently, the license should make
it clear what is included in the work. I think the "kludge" factor arose
because some developers were not clear about this in their prior licenses.

Rod Dixon, J.D., LL.M.
rod at

> -----Original Message-----
> From: m at [mailto:m at]On Behalf Of Michael Stutz
> Sent: Saturday, March 25, 2000 6:20 PM
> To: license-discuss at
> Subject: Re: can GPL apply to more than source and object code?
> Nelson Rush wrote:
> > Can the GPL apply to documentation, art, movies, models, game maps,
> > etc.?
> As it is written, it clearly applies only to software, so I would say
> no. And I say that not without having tried; I tried for years and
> admit to once being the leading proponent of this practice, but it
> just does not work.
> > I'm the leader of the QuakeForge project and we've been arguing about
> > whether or not we should have a different license for each of these
> > things.
> The outcome of increased, unchecked specialization is extinction. The
> growing multitude of specialized licenses under this approach will
> drive you mad, and it does not account for postmodernism at all: what
> happens when one wants to use part of a work in a different medium?
> The DSL is a strong copyleft that is generalized, and can be applied
> to any work recognized by copyright law. Maybe this is what you are
> looking for?

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