[linux-elitists] How is it possible to have a dual licensed Linux Distro.

Nathaniel Smith njs@pobox.com
Sat Sep 1 14:10:17 PDT 2007


On Fri, Aug 31, 2007 at 05:04:24PM -0700, Rick Moen wrote:
> Quoting Ben Finney (ben@benfinney.id.au):
> 
> > Any work of creative expression recognised under copyright law 
> > automatically has a copyright holder. A GNU/Linux distribution, if it 
> > involves such creative expression, can thus be licensed as a whole by  
> > its copyright holder, and can even be dual-licensed, as with any other 
> > work.
> > 
> > Of course, such a distribution would be a derived work of all the 
>              ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> > parts that comprise it,
>   ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^            
> 
> Hereby disputed.  Actually, on reflection, I'll just say "No, sir."
> 
> "Derivative work" as a term of art within copyright law needs to be
> carefully distinguished from bundling without derivation (what FSF
> likes to call "mere aggregation").  Most constituent codebases on a
> typical Linux (GNU/Linux, whatever) distribution are highly unlikely to
> ever be judged derivative works of each other.

The different codebases are not derivative of each other, but the
creator of a distribution does presumably hold a compilation
copyright on the work as a whole, and that is the copyright I read
Ben as referring to.  I don't really grok the details of compilation
copyrights, though, so I'm not sure to what extent it is legally
meaningful to talk about a compilation as being derived from the
constituent works -- I get the impression that this is one of those
murky corners where intuition and law make minimal little contact.

-- Nathaniel

-- 
Eternity is very long, especially towards the end.
  -- Woody Allen



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