Subject: Re: Effect of the MySQL FLOSS License Exception?
From: Chuck Swiger <>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 12:01:58 -0400

On Jun 18, 2004, at 10:58 AM, John Cowan wrote:
> 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.

Agreed.  For example, Apple has taken the GNU chess program and added a 
different graphic front-end to make the Chess application run without 
using X11 under MacOS X.  Are Apple's changes to GNU chess original 
enough to qualify as a derivative work?

I think John is correct: probably not.

>> 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.

If you pick a random source file from 100 projects and put them in a 
tarball, sure, there is no connection between them, that's mere 

But if you look at the ~100 files which comprise an apache-1.3.xx 
distribution (to pick a project for the sake of example), there are 
strong connections between these files in terms of header file 
dependencies, the presence of a unified build environment resulting 
from GNU autoconf and the resulting Makefiles, etc.

> 	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.

Above you said that "it's settled that a binary is a derivative work of 
its source".

Putting those sources into a tarball doesn't change the relationship 
between the source (or sources) and an executable compiled from them, 
any more than taking a backup of those sources would....


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