Nees help selecting a license

David Johnson david at
Thu Apr 10 03:54:01 UTC 2003

On Wednesday 09 April 2003 08:12 pm, Christophe Dupre wrote:
> The way I understand it, is what happens if somebody sends in a
> one-liner patch that fixes an off-by-one error. It's a trivial patch,
> but it might be critical AND very difficult to re-implement in a
> different way.

A one liner fix for an off-by-one error is too trivial to consider in 
terms of copyright. The patch itself may have a copyright, but changing 
one byte in your source code hardly makes it a derivative of the patch.

Is there a legal difference between someone giving you a trivial patch 
versus verbally telling you that you have an off-by-one error on line 
204? I don't think so.

IANAL, not even on TV, but I would hazard a guess that trivial patches 
up to five lines or so are fair game. But use your best judgement. If a 
first year programming student could fix the error after being told 
what and where it is, then the patch is no longer an expression of an 
idea (coyrightable), but a mechanical fix to a deterministic system. If 
there's only one logical, correct and trivial way to fix the problem, 
it's not copyrightable.

Again, I am not a lawyer, nor carry writs of marquee, nor have had 
bestowed upon me any legal exemptions from inerrency. Either use your 
own wisdom or consult an atttorney.

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