Question about the GPL v3

Richard Fontana fontana at
Fri Aug 17 00:48:46 UTC 2007

Chris Travers wrote:
> Richard Fontana wrote:
>> Chris Travers wrote:
>>> Though this may be a typo, it seems incredibly unclear to me:
>>> Section 5d:
>>> d) If the work has interactive user interfaces, each must display
>>> Appropriate Legal Notices; however, if the Program has interactive
>>> interfaces that do not display Appropriate Legal Notices, your work need
>>> not make them do so.
>>> Am I right that this amounts to:
>>> "If the work has ineractive user interfaces, Appropriate Legal Notices
>>> may not be removed though they may be updated as appropriate?"
>>> Here is my confusion.  THe first part says you must have these notices,
>>> but the second says that if you don't have these notices, you don't have
>>> to.
>>> Am I missing something obvious in the bounds of the license?  Is there
>>> any basis for any interpretation in the license or outside?
>> It's possible that you're confused about the usage of "Program" and
>> "work" here. "The Program" is a term of art in GPLv[23], meaning the
>> work *as you received it* (that is, without further modification by
>> you).  In section 5 of GPLv3, references to "the work" or "your work"
>> are shorthand for "the new work you created by modifying the Program".
> From section 0:
> “The Program” refers to any copyrightable work licensed under this
> License. Each licensee is addressed as “you”. “Licensees” and
> “recipients” may be individuals or organizations.
> ...
> A “covered work” means either the unmodified Program or a work based on
> the Program.
> I suppose one reading of the definitions might agree with you. I would
> argue that the above definitions suggest that the terms "The Program"
> and "covered work" are mutually inclusive and hence don't have much
> difference in meaning.

"Covered work" means either "the Program" (the work as you received it)
or "a work based on the Program" (which in GPLv3 means your modified
version of the work you received, and does not mean the unmodified
version that you received).  (Were your reading correct, there would
have been no need to use any term other than "the Program".)

Richard E. Fontana
Software Freedom Law Center
tel. 212-461-1909
fax  212-580-0898

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