[License-discuss] Red Hat compilation copyright & RHEL contract

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Sep 10 21:32:14 UTC 2013

Quoting Nick Yeates (nyeates1 at umbc.edu):

> I too am curious what this "compilation license"ing is...

Copyright law recognises the possiblity of an abstract property called a
'compilation copyright', that being the ownership interest gained by
someone who _creatively_ collects and assembles other people's works in
such a way that the collective set can be legitimately seen as _itself_
constituting an original work of authorship.

An example would be the editor of a short-story anthology collecting and
arranging other people's stories to create a themed book.  Copyright law
recognises that the act of picking stories and arranging them and
presenting them in a particular way is an act of creation deserving of
recognition as an abstract property, completely aside from the copyright
title existing in the constituent works.

When I operated a dial-up BBS from (if memory serves) 1988 to 1993, my
Policies bulletin asserted that I owned compilation copyright over the
design and implementation of the BBS as a whole.

Your term 'compilation licence', or whatever it was that people said
upstream seems to refer to Red Hat's published policy asserting a
compilation copyright over RHEL as a whole.

By the way, when the whole 'Red Hat is violating other people's
copyrights' drumbeat started in the early 2000s, I did my best to FAQ
the extant situation.  (I make no apologies if things have changed since
then, but I doubt they have changed much.)

(If memory serves, the situation was then new enough that I merely
speculated that RH asserts compilation copyright.  It does, and grants
GPLv2 redistribution permission to its rights over the collective work,
while clarifying at the same time that their conveyance does not include
any right to transgress Red Hat's trademark rights.)

> ...and what its benefits are.


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