Dynamic linking, was: Re: Dispelling BSD License Misconceptions

Arnoud Engelfriet arnoud at engelfriet.net
Fri Jan 26 21:48:38 UTC 2007

John Cowan wrote:
> Arnoud Engelfriet scripsit:
> > Specifically written to work only with one particular other program.
> > Then it's a derivative. It is based on one pre-existing work and
> > cannot function without that specific pre-existing work. That makes
> > it a derivative in my book.
> That comes awfully close to saying that if you write an article arguing
> for some position, and I write another article arguing against yours,
> that my work is a derivative of yours, even if I don't quote you (or at
> least not beyond fair use/fair dealing).  That seems to me a socially
> dangerous position (it would make life hard for lawyers!).

I'm not sure I follow that. A program cannot *function* without
the pre-existing library. It has no purpose. It does not work.
You can't make such a program without access to the library.

The same can be said for an article. Although in that case you could
probably rely on fair use or citation rights as an excuse for your
derivation, so you would not be infringing.

> In particular, there exists the C Answer Book (Tondo & Gimpel), which
> gives answers to the study questions in The C Programming Language
> (Kernighan & Ritchie).  I can't see that it is a derivative work, even
> though it is hardly usable without K&R.

Well, personally I don't see why such an answer book is *not*
a derivative work of K&R. It builds upon K&R and could not have
been written without access to K&R. In a somewhat similar case,
a US 2nd Circuit Case decided a trivia book for the TV show Seinfeld
was a copyright infringement. 

(I don't see much difference between taking notes from Seinfeld
and turning those into multiple-choice questions on the one hand
and reading questions in K&R and writing down answers. Both involve
copying of creative elements from the originals)

I agree that it would be useful if people create such books. But given
things like this I'm pretty sure it would be regarded as a derivative
work under most copyright laws.


Arnoud Engelfriet, Dutch & European patent attorney - Speaking only for myself
Patents, copyright and IPR explained for techies: http://www.iusmentis.com/

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