Subject: Re: Effect of the MySQL FLOSS License Exception?
From: John Cowan <>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 10:58:50 -0400

Lawrence Rosen scripsit:

> But what is it about the copyright law that leads you to believe that
> the degree of triviality to wrap a copyrighted work as a black box
> makes a difference in the definition of a derivative work?

For one thing, if the wrapper is too trivial we won't have sufficient
originality to be a derivative work, and the work will just be a copy
of the original.

> And what is wrong, ethically or morally or according to the open source
> creed, with encouraging open source black boxes to be put together in
> imaginative ways without forcing those ways to be disclosed?

Exactly.  After all, nobody supposes that you can't write a proprietary
shell or Perl program that invokes GNU utilities.

(Hey, what kind of a LK would I be if I couldn't argue out of both
sides of my mouth before lunch?!)

> Let's be candid about what behavior we want to affect by our reciprocal
> licenses. I believe we want to make sure that changes, bug fixes and
> enhancements to our software are returned to the commons. But we don't
> want to discourage the use of our open source software in combination
> with other software, proprietary or open. By distinguishing between
> *derivative works* and *collective works* as the copyright law itself
> does, we can better achieve this balance.

The sticky point is this:

	It's settled that a binary is a derivative work of
	its source.  It's obvious that a source tarball is a mere
	collective work, or "aggregation" as the GPL calls it.	What,
	then, is the status of a binary compiled from the tarball?
	It evidently is a derivative of the collection; is it a
	derivative of the source works as well?

Larry says (in effect) no; Eben says yes.  Infinite are the arguments
of mages.

"But I am the real Strider, fortunately,"       John Cowan
he said, looking down at them with his face
softened by a sudden smile.  "I am Aragorn son
of Arathorn, and if by life or death I can
save you, I will."  --LotR Book I Chapter 10
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