Question Regarding GPL

Rick Moen rick at
Fri Jan 20 22:25:58 UTC 2006

Quoting Ben Tilly (btilly at

> My understanding of his opinion is that in the case of a loadable
> module, there is no derived work until one is created by the end-user
> loading the module (which is within that user's rights to do), and
> after this derived work is created the GPL is not triggered because
> the user never does anything that touches on copyright law.

Whether one work is a "derivative" of another within the meaning of
copyright law is a factual question that -- in USA legal jurisdictions --
would be decided by reference to the "abstraction, filtration, comparison"
test detailed in the ruling precedent, CAI v. Altai, Inc., FN53:
982 F.2d 693, 23 USPQ2d 1241 2d Cir. 1992), which was further detailed
in Gates Rubber v. Bando Chemical, FN57: 9 F.3d 823, 28 USPQ2d 1503 10th
Cir. 1993.

For your leisure reading, here's the Altai decision:

> IANAL, this is not legal advice, etc.  

IANALOSCJ.  (I am not a lawyer or Supreme Court Justice.)

Oops, I forgot to also mention Micro Star v. FormGen, Inc., 154 F.3d
1107 9th Cir. 1998, and had better do so before John Cowan cluebats me
about it.  (Infringing software work incorporated original's creative 
elemenets, even though they didn't share even a single line of code.)

Cheers,                                        "He who hesitates is frost."
Rick Moen                                                 -- Inuit proverb
rick at  

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