"Derivative Work" for Software Defined

David Johnson david at usermode.org
Wed Jan 8 03:42:41 UTC 2003

On Tuesday 07 January 2003 11:32 am, Don Jarrell wrote:

> ... Consider taking a
> cast of a three-dimensional object.  One does not
> have an identical-looking thing, but more like a
> mirror image, which still duplicates the "curves",
> or interface of the original and the cast.

Interesting thoughts, but it is incorrect to make an analogy between the shape 
of a sculpture and the API of a library. This is because the shape of a 
sculpture is part of its copyrightable expression. But in the normal case, 
the API of a library is not part of the expression of the library.

Here is a better (but still flawed) non-digital analogy: a text book. This 
book will have footnotes, bibliographies, and a whole bunch of other 
references to other text books. But it is not a derivative work. Throwing in 
just a tiny bit of digital-ness, put the same book online, and make all the 
footnotes hyperlinks. Is this now a derivative work? I still say no.

David Johnson
pgp public key on website
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