Dynamic linking, was: Re: Dispelling BSD License Misconceptions

Ben Tilly btilly at gmail.com
Mon Jan 29 18:06:27 UTC 2007

On 1/28/07, Matthew Flaschen <matthew.flaschen at gatech.edu> wrote:
> Ben Tilly wrote:
> > In my opinion it should be a judgement call based on how closely
> > connected your code is with the design of GNU readline.  Remember that
> > copyright is not just intended to apply to literal copying.  For
> > instance if I write a short story and Mickey Mouse appears in it, I'm
> > going to hear from Disney's lawyers.
> Yes, but probably on trademark grounds.

On every grounds they can get, *including* copyright.

In fact I chose that example specifically for good reason.  Disney is
famous for caring about the copyright that they have on Mickey Mouse.
So much so that on multiple occasions they have successfully lobbied
for copyright law to be changed so that they can continue to maintain
that copyright.

>   Even though I have not copied
> > anything exact, I can still be derivative of it.  Likewise if my code
> > makes liberal use of ideas and memes created by GNU readline, there is
> > an argument that I'm derivative of realine regardless of whether I
> > link.
> Ideas and memes alone shouldn't be enough to create a derivative work
> under copyright law.

My understanding (as a non-lawyer) is that copyright law protects my
creative expression.  Thus while the concepts that I used to write my
code are not copyrighted, the various variable names, function names,
arrangements, etc that I used might be copyrightable material.
Therefore someone who makes extensive use of the creative framework
that I created can find that their work is derivative of mine under

Nothing stops them from creating an equivalent framework from scratch.
 It is only when they use my creative arrangement that they have a
possibility of running into trouble.

> > Of course my opinion is influenced by having read
> > http://linuxmafia.com/faq/Kernel/proprietary-kernel-modules.html in
> > detail and then having thought about how the changing richness of the
> > Linux kernel module API has changed Linus' opinions about when a
> > binary module is a derived work of the Linux kernel.  (And why.)
> That is a quite interesting compilation.

It is.  And it gives a lot of insight into how Linus thinks about this
issue.  Of course I have no idea of what a lawyer would think about
his thinking...


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