Subject: Re: gpl backlash?
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 27 Jul 1999 15:12:52 -0400

   Date: Mon, 26 Jul 1999 20:13:25 -0700
   From: Wilfredo Sanchez <>

   | Do you mean by this that if the GPL were more specific in its
   | allowances and prohibitions, it would make for more acceptance and a 
   | better license?

     Most certainly.  For starters, it should define "derived work" if  
   it's going to use that term in its requirements.

My understanding is that ``derived work'' has a defined legal meaning
in the context of copyrights.  There is no pressing need for the GPL
to define it.  You can find more information by poking around under, e.g.,
(Of course this only applies to U.S. law.)

It's certainly true that the notion of derived work becomes very murky
when it comes to computer programs, just as it does in other fields
such as music.  But that is not a fault of the GPL.  It is reasonable
and, I think, correct for the GPL to defer to copyright law and the
federal courts when it comes to the meaning of ``derived work.''  It
leaves us confused right now, but it avoids creating a definition
which may become meaningless or invalid as programming technology