"Derivative Work" for Software Defined

Ian Lance Taylor ian at airs.com
Tue Jan 7 02:24:26 UTC 2003

"Lawrence E. Rosen" <lrosen at rosenlaw.com> writes:

> If you don't create "a work based upon one or more preexisting works"
> then you have simply not created a derivative work.  17 U.S.C. §101.
> How in the world does an independently-written piece of software that
> communicates with another independently-written piece of software
> through a published API ever become a derivative work of that other
> software?  Where in the GPL does it say that it can become a derivative
> work?  

When writing a binary loadable module in Linux, can you really be
described as using a published API?  I'm not aware of any meaningful
publishing of that API other than the Linux sources themselves, and
it's worth noting that API changes regularly as the kernel changes.

It seems to be me that a loadable module is not so very different from
a straightforward enhancement of the existing source.  After all, most
of the Linux kernel is loadable modules.

I really don't think there is any clear answer to whether a loadable
module is a derivative work or not.

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