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Re: GPL traitor !


From: Alan Mackenzie
Subject: Re: GPL traitor !
Date: Fri, 15 May 2009 16:50:27 +0000 (UTC)
User-agent: tin/1.6.2-20030910 ("Pabbay") (UNIX) (FreeBSD/4.11-RELEASE (i386))

In gnu.misc.discuss Hyman Rosen <address@hidden> wrote:
> Alan Mackenzie wrote:

For crying out loud, will you stop doing this!!!!  You've snipped the
very definition without which this conversation is senseless.  It looks
like you've snipped it because your points are contradicted by it.  It
was you that introduced the definition into this thread.  So here it is
again - this is getting really tedious.

>> 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.

>> 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.

> If you were correct, that would imply that no utility library
> could be copyrighted. That's what's ridiculous.

That too.  The only copyrightable program would be an image for an
embedded device, or the complete source for it.

> It says that a computer program is a set of instructions because
> that's a reasonable way of describing what a computer program is
> using conventional English.

Yes, but a _set_, not a ragbag:  "... in order to bring about a certain
result".

> > 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.

> The computer program must be an original work of authorship. The
> tinier the program, the less likely it is to be so, in the same
> way that a tiny sentence fragment would not be copyrightable.

My point was about the definition you cited, and that it cannot be
interpreted pedantically or rigidly, since this would lead to absurdity.
The "computer program", according to the definition you cited, must be
substantial enough to "achieve a certain result".

> Aside from that, however, it is no more ridiculous to copyright
> a tiny computer program than it is to copyright a tiny poem; do
> you believe that a Haiku cannot be copyrighted?

Stop attacking a strawman.  I have not suggested a tiny computer program
cannot be copyrighted.  I have said an ragbag collection of instructions,
too minute to be capable of anything, cannot count as a program,
according to your definition, or common sense, for that matter.

[ .... ]

>> OK, I can accept that.  Now what is the equivalent legal term for
>> "complete program"?  I put it to you that it's "program".

> There is no such term because it is not necessary; there is no
> distinction in copyright between them.

Yes - because a "program" is defined as something used "to bring about a
certain result", and only a complete program can do this.

>> Surely not.  A complete program, a smallish one, could easily just be a
>> single source file written by a single hacker over a weekend.  Or are you
>> going to tell me that the "number of contributions" can be one?  That's
>> absurd too, because then every work would be, in legal terms, a
>> collective one, rendering the term "collective work" equivalent to
>> "work", and hence redundant.

> What in the world are you talking about?

I'm talking about what you snipped.  It was your text, and quite frankly
I can't be bother to cut and paste it back in for you.  Your answer,
which I have snipped, bore no relationship to your original bit of text,
or my criticism of it.  I'm not carrying on with this sort of evasive and
inane form of "debate".

[ .... ]

-- 
Alan Mackenzie (Nuremberg, Germany).



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