Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 2nd May 2012 22:32 UTC, submitted by PLan
Legal "The European Court of Justice ruled on Wednesday that application programming interfaces and other functional characteristics of computer software are not eligible for copyright protection. Users have the right to examine computer software in order to clone its functionality - and vendors cannot override these user rights with a license agreement, the court said." Bravo. A landmark ruling, for sure. If the US courts decide in favour of Oracle in the Google-Oracle case, Europe would instantly become an even friendlier place for technology companies.
Thread beginning with comment 517073
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
MollyC
Member since:
2006-07-04

Yes, but what does the FSF say? Does dynamic linking to GPL code create a GPL "derived" work according to FSF?

Reply Parent Score: 1

cfgr Member since:
2009-07-18

Yes, but what does the FSF say? Does dynamic linking to GPL code create a GPL "derived" work according to FSF?

What the FSF says is not really relevant. What matters is what the law says. As far as I can tell, this ruling points out that API's (i.e. things like names and signatures) are not copyrightable, only the actual implementation of that API is. Therefore it would be odd that you can end up with a derived work if you only use the API and do not include an actual implementation of that API (which is what dynamic linking does).

So from an engineering point of view, it would seem that when linking dynamically, you would be creating a derived work from something that is not copyrightable. I'm not a lawyer, but my guess is that this no longer makes it a derived work, in which case GPL would be equal to LGPL for dynamic linking (and interpreted languages), at least in the EU. It remains to be seen if that is the case in the USA as well.

Reply Parent Score: 1

Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

Wow, ndrw really unleashed quite the debate here, it turns out I was right this would turn into quite the drama. Unfortunately I think the court left us with more questions than answers. Much of the problem is that the structures and function prototypes present in header files represent the idea of the API and are an expression of the API at the same time. There isn't really any difference between the idea of a function prototype in our minds, and on screen. So which interpretation would the court have us use? That would have been helpful.


Assuming for a moment that structures & function prototypes are not copyrightable (because they're directly representative of the ideas of them), then we might consider them to be a type of "copyright barrier", where two different programs/DLLs can explicitly use the same structures & function prototypes without being legal derivatives. I think this would have huge implications for both proprietary and OSS licenses.

But the court was just too unclear, I think the issue needs to be kicked back in until they take a more assertive stance.

Reply Parent Score: 2