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Re: Fedora Freedom and linux-libre

On Tue, 2008-06-10 at 05:36 -0400, Alan Cox wrote:
> On Tue, Jun 10, 2008 at 10:29:53AM +0100, David Woodhouse wrote:
> > It is the _distribution_ of a collective whole based on both firmware
> > and kernel together, which makes the difference under the GPL.
> Are you claiming they are a database. I don't understand your "collective work"
> here. What sort of a work do you claim it is, and why does the collective work
> acquire some kind of extra rights ?

Under copyright law, a collective work is a work in which a number of
contributions, each constituting separate and independent works in
themselves, are assembled into a collective whole.

To create a collective work, permission must be obtained from the owners
of the copyrights of the constituent parts.

Obviously, there is nothing in copyright law which allows someone to
make claims over an independent work _you_ have written all by yourself.
The GPL operates under copyright law, and as such it only talks about
permissions which you are granted, or denied, in relation to the GPL'd
work itself. That includes the permission, or refusal of permission, to
include that GPL'd work within a collective work.

It so happens that the GPL grants you permission to include the GPL'd
"Program" in a collective work _only_ when the other constituent parts
of that collective work are also available under the terms of the GPL.

No magic "extra rights" over the other, independent sections are
implied, and none are needed. It's just that unless those independent
sections _do_ happen to be available under the terms of the GPL, you are
refused permission to include the original GPL'd "Program" in your
collective work.

That is _entirely_ within the remit of a copyright licence. It operates
purely by restricting your permissions on the original GPL'd work.

Consider an analogy: I write short stories. Copyright law states that
you do not have permission to publish my short stories in an anthology
unless I grant it to you.

I grant blanket permission for _anyone_ to reprint my stories in their
collections, but _only_ if the other stories in each collection are all
stories which have been made available under the same terms.

You publish an anthology with a bunch of my stories and one of your own,
for which you have _not_ granted such permission to others. That is an
offence under copyright law. Not because I have assumed "some kind of
extra rights" over your own independent work, but because you didn't
have permission to use _my_ work in those circumstances.


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