OSL 2.0 and linking of libraries

Forrest J. Cavalier III mibsoft at mibsoftware.com
Fri Apr 2 05:58:27 UTC 2004

"Roy T. Fielding" <fielding at apache.org> wrote, in part:

> > My take on this definition is that most statically linked programs
> > include a relocation table and symbol tables which are annotations
> > of the source code.
> >
> > These annotations are not particularly original, but if you declare
> > that your statically linked program is not an original work of
> > authorship, then it is not protected under copyright law.
> That only means it is not separately protected under copyright.
> The owner of the source code copyright retains control over all
> copying of the work, including copies that involve mechanical
> transformation and later copying of that transformation.

You forgot 17 USC 117.  See comments below...

> Otherwise, copyright would not be maintained when a modern
> digital copier is used to copy an art print, which is clearly
> not the case.  Likewise, printing a document using PostScript
> does not create a separately copyrighted document even though
> the raw script "looks" nothing like the WYSIWYG editor window.
> I agree with Larry Rosen's view, but confusion in regards to
> this issue is so rampant that failure to state it explicitly
> in the license leads to an endless stream of FAQs.

I don't think appealing to analogy of art prints is a good
strategy, because software is special because of the
fair uses permitted by 17 USC 117.

To summarize...
   1. The Softman v Adobe opinion referenced in this thread
      presented a court which very strongly disagreed that
      purchased software was licensed, even when the copyright
      holder claimed it was only licensed not sold.

   2. The opinion on static linking, advocated here by Mr. Rosen
      and others, is that no derivative work is created by mere
      compilation and linking.

   3. Then we have 17 USC 117, which states:

      (a) Making of Additional Copy or Adaptation by Owner of Copy. - 

      Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for
      the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of
      another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided: 

      (1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the
      utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it
      is used in no other manner, or 

So if all the above holds, if I become a lawful owner of a copy of
"licensed" software without assenting to the license, I can ignore
the license terms if all I want to do is compile, install, and use
the software unmodified, and the software is not encumbered by patents.

(Only if there were patents involved, or I were to desire to create
a derivative work, or make copies of the original or derivative work, I
would need to agree to the open source license.)

But let's say I didn't want to do anything more than compile and
use it....Does that also mean 
   I can ignore clauses in the license about limitations of liability?

   The Termination for Patent Action in OSL (and others) doesn't apply
   either then?  

   Specification of Venue is irrelevant to me too?

The GPL can easily be circumvented in practice too by automated
package download and build systems.  It makes the GPL not much
stronger than the LGPL.

I think this discussion is incredibly important to open source
software.  If the above end up being true, companies using
dual-licensing strategies to generate revenue will not be able
to rely on that revenue model.


license-discuss archive is at http://crynwr.com/cgi-bin/ezmlm-cgi?3

More information about the License-discuss mailing list