binary restrictions?

Greg London greglondon at
Sun Oct 7 15:30:44 UTC 2001

Steve Lhomme wrote:
> | A binary is a derived work.
> Are you sure of that ? When you compile 
> you USE the code not MODIFY it.
> There's no derivation. Otherwise using 
> a software and changing the default
> settings would be a derived work...

source code is text that follows the
rules of grammar for a particular language
(C, C++, Perl, Java, Python, etc)

A binary is text that follows the rules of
grammar for a different language.
The symbols are different from English
alpha-numeric, the rules are different,
but it is a readable language, nonetheless.
(having debugged microcontroller machine 
code years ago, I can vouch for readability)

converting source code to binary is in 
effect a *translation* from one language
to another. 

I don't know which right of a copyright holder
affects translations, but my understanding is
that a book author handles foreign translations
of their book separately from the original work.
I don't know if it's because of the translation
(and therefore is a derived work), or if it's 
because it involves other national governments. 
I thought it was because the translation
was in effect a derived work or something.

any lawyer on the list who can clarify 
how translations are handled for book authors?

The only difference between book authors and
software authors is that software authors write
in a language that is defined rigidly enough that
a computer can do the translation automatically.

so, how the law applies to book translations
should be the way it applies to software
translations as well.

One could argue that translating source code
into machine code should fall under the
realm of fair use for software, but I don't 
know if this has any legal precedence.

imagine: Micro$oft open sourced their operating
system but said that compiling it is a 
translation and a right reserved by Micro$oft.
Charlie takes the code, compiles it anyway,
and distributes the binary, arguing that 
compiling is 'fair use'. Micro$oft sues.

I would have to side with Microsoft in this
hypothetical situation, because my understanding
is that translation falls under derived works.

It would be an interesting case to follow, for sure.

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