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Re: Integration of gettext in Perl

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: Re: Integration of gettext in Perl
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2002 13:40:14 -0700 (PDT)

> From: address@hidden (Paul Jarc)
> Date: Fri, 02 Aug 2002 14:20:53 -0400
> Paul Eggert <address@hidden> wrote:
> > And if you read the text of the original law at
> > <http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/117.html>, I think you'll
> > find it hard to justify your claim directly from that text.
> I have read it, and I don't see anything that would make the
> proprietary code into a derivative work of the GPLed code.

You've got it backwards.  17 USC 117 limits the rights of copyright
holders.  It specifies exceptions to the ordinary rules for copyright.
Uses that fall under these exceptions, do not need to get copyright

Now, D.J. Bernstein's opinion (which you referenced) claims that 17
USC 117 lets users modify programs without permission from the
copyright holder.  In other words, he is saying that 17 USC 117's
exceptions apply to (for example) creating a derivative work from a

But if you read 17 USC 117, you'll see that it says nothing of the
sort.  It says only that users can make backup copies, and can make
copies or adaptations (in RAM, say) that are needed to run the
original program.  In no way does 17 USC 117 allow you to create
derivative works from the program, without a license from the
copyright holder.

> I think a court decision one way or the other would be very useful
> to clarify the issue.

I doubt whether we'll see a court decision any time soon, since the
FSF's legal position is quite strong here.  There's little economic
incentive to defending cases that you'll almost certainly lose.

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