[License-review] License Committee Report - 2013-03-06

Richard Fontana fontana at sharpeleven.org
Fri Mar 8 22:21:20 UTC 2013

On Fri, Mar 08, 2013 at 12:07:22PM -0800, Bruce Perens wrote:
> GPL3 defines the covered work as either the program or a work based on the
> program. This avoids the term "use" which has a separate definition in
> copyright law that means "run". This definition is potentially broader than
> other licenses that limit the covered work to the original work and derivative
> works of the original work only. Rulings (including in Oracle v. Google which
> Luis Villa was deeply involved in and myself less so) are saying that calling
> or providing an API is not a derivative work of that API because an API is
> functional rather than expressive (see CAI v. Altai in Wikipedia), and this has
> long been the finding of Larry Rosen and others. The GPL3 text attempts to
> avoid this argument by using language that is not limited to derivative works.

It is true that GPLv3 was drafted to avoid use of the term 'derivative
work', but this was not (as you seem to be suggesting) in order to
capture calling or providing an API. It was because many US lawyers,
Larry among them, argued that the reference to 'derivative work' in
section 0 of GPLv2 was confusing.

 - RF

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