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Re: GPL traitor !


From: Rjack
Subject: Re: GPL traitor !
Date: Thu, 14 May 2009 17:19:41 -0400
User-agent: Thunderbird 2.0.0.21 (Windows/20090302)

Alan Mackenzie wrote:
In gnu.misc.discuss Hyman Rosen <address@hidden> wrote:
Alan Mackenzie wrote:
In gnu.misc.discuss Hyman Rosen <address@hidden> wrote:
Alan Mackenzie wrote:
Does copyright law have any notion of "a complete program"?
 ;-)

No. Copyright law has the notion of a collective work, which
 is <http://www.copyright.gov/title17/circ92.pdf> a work,
such as a periodical issue, anthology, or encyclopedia, in
which a number of contributions, constituting separate and independent works in themselves, are assembled into a collective whole.

The law's definition of a computer program is A ?computer program? is a set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result.

This definition does not contain any notion of completeness, that
is, that the computer program must be able to perform its function without the assistance of other computer programs.

I disagree.  It says "a set" of instructions which gets the certain
 result.  That implies that it includes the other programs and all
 the bits of the operating system and BIOS it uses, otherwise that
 set couldn't bring about any result, no matter how uncertain.
Which is kind of ridiculous.

Or you might say that the "set" of instructions, although used to bring about the result, needn't achieve it on its own, much as you use a knive to make lunch. Well now the problem is that an arbitrarily small fragment of the whole program, even just a single
 machine instruction, counts as "a set" of instructions, hence is,
 legally, "a program".  This is even more ridiculous.

Which goes to show that lawyers cant rigorously pin down technical concepts any better than technologists can, and that you've got to use plain common sense in reading the definitions, which aren't and
can't be 100% complete and rigorous.


In order to enforce copyrights in a computer program it must first be
registered with the Copyright Office. See 17 USC sec. 501. What a
court will consider as "the whole program" is what you have registered
with the Copyright Office as "the whole program".

Sincerely,
Rjack :)


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