Subject: RE: Effect of the MySQL FLOSS License Exception?
From: "Lawrence Rosen" <>
Date: Fri, 18 Jun 2004 09:51:21 -0700

 Fri, 18 Jun 2004 09:51:21 -0700
John Cowan wrote:
> 	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.

When did I say no? A binary compiled from the entire tarball is a derivative
of the entire source module collection. And each binary module compiled from
each of its modules is a derivative of its own individual source module. 

The real question I'm posing is: By doing this (these) compilations of a
source tarball that contains proprietary module X and open source module Y,
does the source or compiled version of X become a derivative work of Y? Does
the compilation of the entire tarball become a derivative work of Y? What
justification is there for such widespread effects of simply compiling?

Perhaps the word "compile" is confusing:

1. To gather into a single book.
2. To put together or compose from materials gathered from several sources:
compile an encyclopedia.
3. Computer Science. To translate (a program) into machine language.
The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition.

The first two meanings correspond to the creation of a collective work.
Unfortunately for us, the third meaning corresponds to the creation of a
derivative work.


Lawrence Rosen 
Rosenlaw & Einschlag, technology law offices (
General counsel, Open Source Initiative ( 
3001 King Ranch Road, Ukiah, CA 95482 
707-485-1242 * fax: 707-485-1243 

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