[License-discuss] Derivative Works of a standard

John Cowan cowan at mercury.ccil.org
Sun Jul 8 17:21:44 UTC 2012

Grahame Grieve scripsit:

> Is it only a derivative work if it quotes at length from the source? more than
> fair use? where do the html tutorials stand, then, that "derive" from the html
> specification in violation of the w3c license?

Note that the answer is not only law-specific (it depends on the
controlling legal jurisdiction) but also fact-specific.  The U.S. legal
definition of "derivative work" is:

    A “derivative work” is a work based upon one or more pre-existing
    works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization,
    fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art
    reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which
    a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted. A work consisting of
    editorial revisions, annotations, elaborations, or other modifications
    which, as a whole, represent an original work of authorship, is a
    “derivative work”.

These would clearly cover adaptation of the text of the standard into
other standards, but an implementation of the standard doesn't look like
recasting, transforming, or adapting.

John Cowan <cowan at ccil.org>             http://www.ccil.org/~cowan
"Make a case, man; you're full of naked assertions, just like Nietzsche."
"Oh, i suffer from that, too.  But you know, naked assertions or GTFO."
                        --heard on #scheme, sorta

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