The Copyright Act preempts the GPL

Arnoud Engelfriet galactus at
Mon Feb 9 19:08:57 UTC 2004

Ruth A. Kramer wrote:
> I may be off the mark, but to me, part of the implied "question"
> (perhaps in an earlier post?) is whether a compiled program is a
> derivative work of the compiler?
> IANAL, but in my understanding it is not.  It is, however, a derived
> work of the source code, IIUC.

Usually a compiler adds certain code to the executable it
produces. For example, it may add a standard library or
start-up code. As a result, the executable may very well
qualify as a derivative work of this code.

If you use the gcc compiler, the 'libgcc' library is linked
against your code. This library is under the GPL with a
special exception:

  In addition to the permissions in the GNU General Public License,
  the Free Software Foundation gives you unlimited permission to link
  the compiled version of this file into combinations with other
  programs, and to distribute those combinations without any
  restriction coming from the use of this file.  (The General Public
  License restrictions do apply in other respects; for example, they
  cover modification of the file, and distribution when not linked
  into a combine executable.)

So in this particular case, the derivative work can be
distributed under other licenses than the GPL.


Arnoud Engelfriet, Dutch patent attorney - Speaking only for myself
Patents, copyright and IPR explained for techies:
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