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Re: Question About GNU General Public License


From: telford
Subject: Re: Question About GNU General Public License
Date: Mon, 19 Jul 2004 00:32:41 -0000

In gnu.misc.discuss David Kastrup <address@hidden> wrote:
> <address@hidden> writes:

>> In gnu.misc.discuss David Kastrup <address@hidden> wrote:
>> 
>> > My eyesight seems to get worse.  I fail to see a quote of a court
>> > ruling stating that extracted symbol tables would not fall under
>> > the original copyright.
>> 
>> I'm pretty sure a symbol table would fall under the "phonebook"
>> ruling that a table of facts presented in obvious
>> (i.e. non-creative) format and ordering cannot be considered a
>> creative work.

> Who claimed that it was?

If the end result of the derivation has no creative content then
there is a good argument that it is not protected by copyright.
There may have been creative content in the source material but the
derivation process is in this case a process that extracts only
a table of facts and not the creative elements.

Remember that officially, the creative content of programming is
the arangement of instructions in a particular order to achieve a
purpose. A symbol table contains no arrangement of instructions.

> But it is clearly a derivative (even a
> mechanical derivative) of a creative work, and so the copyright for
> the original creative work applies.

I vaguely remember a situation where someone was collecting prices
of common items from various store websites and also from paper
catalogues and presenting those in a price-comparison database.
There was an attempt to claim that the price comparison system was
a derivative work of the original source material. I believe that
the conclusion was that this was not a derivative work, someone
else might be able to get more details.

Another example: google counts the number of times various keywords
are used in various websites. A count of keywords is a mechanical
derivative of the original site content but no one has even
attempted to claim derivative work status of google's index data
on this basis (same for any search engine). I'm ignoring cached
pages here which are unmodified and a special case, I'm just looking
at the index itself. We could consider google's index of the WWW
to be analogous to a symbol table's index of an object file.

There might be other index examples of a similar nature. Suppose I
provide street-directory page and map references for a whole bunch of
shops around town, am I creating a derivative work of the
street-directory? I doubt I would be, don't think this has been fought
out but people do provide such lists of references.

        - Tel


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