Copyright in contracts/licenses (was: Re: [Approval request] CMGPL licence)

Brian Behlendorf brian at
Thu Nov 8 18:17:14 UTC 2001

On Wed, 7 Nov 2001, Karsten M. Self wrote:
> on Wed, Nov 07, 2001 at 03:08:08PM -0500, Russell Nelson (nelson at wrote:
> >
> > For better or worse, the GPL is a document copyrighted by the Free
> > Software Foundation and they have not granted permission to make
> > derivative works.
> I have my own doubts regarding this statment.
> Legal contracts are, in one analysis, functional documents, and as such,
> the language that exists, if it's functional, or if the functional
> characteristics cannot be divorced from the expressive mode, would
> likely not be covered by copyright.

Then why is source code covered by copyright?  Is source code not
"functional" in the same way legal contracts are?  Aren't legal contracts
just source code for the machine we call society?


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