Subject: Copyright
From: Gabe Wachob <>
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999 21:37:18 -0700

Arkin wrote:

> > This is not correct.  The statutory limits of copyright, at least in the
> > U.S. and many other countries, are all original works fixed in a tangible
> > medium of expression. Now, I believe there is an exception for purely
> > functional language, but it is a narrow exception (I don't know more off
> > the top of my head right now), and I don't think this exception would apply
> > to the GNU license. I don't know for sure -- this is not legal advice.
> The exception of purely functional language applies to all the legal
> parts of the GPL. Simply because there is one way to say it. Legal
> clauses are that specific.

Well, forms (many of which are contracts) are copyrighted (and I'm told
previously that people have sued and won on them), and I'll leave it at

> The only original thing in the GPL is the concept behind it, the
> election to allow code to be changed but force it to be subject to the
> license, for example. But I do not see the GPL as being able to prevent
> one from duplicating that election into a new license.

I'm not going to argue the law with you since the outcome we agree on --
copyright is not going to protect the license.

> > That is also not correct. The title of a section of a contract does not
> > have a bearing on its enforceability.
> The Premable is a rather long textual section in the GPL. You can take
> it out and it will stand on its own.

Thats irrelevant. The preamble is probably more original than the rest
of the
contract, but it is not more protectable because you can "remove it" and
it will
stand on its own. Even if I take half of it which makes no sense by
itself, that
part would still be copyrightable if it were original.

> > > If you say that your license
> > > is similar to the GPL you must explicitly express how and in what way it
> > > is different. Anything else is trademark infrigement.
> >
> > That is not true. I may very well be able to say that my license is similar
> > and not be infringing on trademark. This is a highly factual question -- it
> > depends a *lot* on the particular facts of the situation.
> Depends on how you present it and whether you may cause confusion. If
> you say that your license is like the GPL but applies to books rather
> than software, that would be acceptable. If you just say your license is
> "derived from the GPL", that woule be confusion. "derived" does not
> explicity state that you have made changes to it. It all about whether
> the reader of your license will be confused into thinking that it is
> endorsed by the FSF because it's a GPL lookalike.

That is the gist of it, though it is more complicated than you make it
out to