Dynamic linking, was: Re: Dispelling BSD License Misconceptions

Matthew Flaschen matthew.flaschen at gatech.edu
Tue Jan 30 01:15:23 UTC 2007

Ben Tilly wrote:
> 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.

They might consider it copyright infringement, but I don't think a judge
would (if you did nothing more then mention Mickey in the story)

> 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.

True, but that's mainly to prevent full-scale copying of the original
(now quite valuable) cartoons.

>>   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.

That's exactly my point.  I can take your ideas without infringing your
copyright, as long as I ignore your expression.

> Nothing stops them from creating an equivalent framework from scratch.

Unless it happens to be patented.

>> > 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...

Yes, and in some cases he's clearly wrong.  In the beginning when he
asserts that the LGPL applies de facto...simply because he considers
some kernel routines libraries.

Matthew Flaschen

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