[License-discuss] Is it possible to use code or knowledge from Manuals/Wiki/Blog/Resonal pages?

Bruce Perens bruce at perens.com
Tue Jul 10 18:50:00 UTC 2012

For my legal protection, don't treat this information as if it came from 
an attorney 'cause I'm not one. There are various free attorneys who 
help Open Source projects, you can ask them if necessary.

On 07/10/2012 06:30 AM, Oleksandr Gavenko wrote:
> Is it possible use knowledge I get form these sources? In case of patent I think no...
Copyright would allow you to do so. The generally-used strategy 
regarding patents for an Open Source project is to proceed on the 
assumption that there isn't one until you are informed otherwise, and 
then ask legal counsel for advice. If you are some deep-pockets company, 
the strategy is different but you would also have your own attorneys to 
advise you.

And it also depends upon the purpose. Publishing information about a 
patented process doesn't infringe, using the process potentially does.
> I don't understand this. For example I use copyleft licence for my program and
> Wikipedia use copyleft (share alike) license for its content. I got conflict?
Which copyleft license? There can be copyleft licenses that are not 
compatible with each other in the specific terms of the license. Even 
GPL2 vs. GPL3. Are all of the pieces clearly under the same license or 
compatible licenses? Sometimes it is a lot of work to figure that out. 
And be sure to attribute the pieces correctly, and provide information 
about their licensing.
> Wikipedia free for knowledge but non-free for use it in free software with different statements for freedom?
Generally what you find in Wikipedia is an explanation of an algorithm. 
This algorithm isn't copyrightable, but the specific way it is written 
can have copyrightable parts. So, the easy way to deal with this is to 
look at how it works and write your own version. The more complicated 
way would be to develop an understanding of the functional vs. 
expressive dichotomy in copyright law, in which case you would start by 
reading the decision in CAI vs. Altai.
> ================================================================
> Interesting also case of non-free references and standards. They define a
> coupe of constants, without which you can't develop certain types of protocol.
> You need to copy a large part of constants and adapt many symbolic names for
> these constants...
> Is that valid?
We just had a re-iteration of the functional vs. expressive debate in 
the Oracle v. Google case regarding Java. It made it even more clear 
that the functional part of the Java specification was not 
copyrightable. You get to use the constants, function names, etc. The 
problem would not be copyright, but patents.


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