binary restrictions?

Karsten M. Self kmself at
Sun Oct 7 20:10:29 UTC 2001

on Sun, Oct 07, 2001 at 08:21:24PM +0200, Steve Lhomme (steve.lhomme at wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Greg London" <greglondon at>
> To: "Steve Lhomme" <steve.lhomme at>
> Cc: <license-discuss at>
> Sent: Sunday, October 07, 2001 5:30 PM
> Subject: Re: binary restrictions?
> > 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.
> That makes good sense. But in this case, why is their different rules for
> source code and binary versions of a work in most open-source licenses ? I
> mean if it's a derived work, the rules applied are the same one of a derived
> work.

Because compiled works are less favorable for modifications.  They're
not the "best form" of a work.  Specifically, they're not the "preferred
for for making modifications" to the work.  Better to go with the source
form than the compiled form, where appropriate.  Likewise proscriptions
against obfuscated or machine-generated sources.

This is consistent with traditions of copyright filing with the US
Library of Congress, which identifies "best works" and preferred forms
for making filings.


Karsten M. Self <kmself at>
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