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

Rick Moen rick@linuxmafia.com
Sun Sep 2 01:42:13 PDT 2007

Quoting Nathaniel Smith (njs@pobox.com):

> 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.

That would not be consistent with Ben's phrase "a derived work of all
the parts that comprise it".  A compilation copyright is not that at
all:  It's the copyright title arising in the creative selection and
arrangement of other people's works.  E.g., when Gardner Dozois
publishes each year's St. Martin's Griffin volume _The Year's Best
Science Fiction_[1], he (or his publisher) gains ownership of compilation
copyright recognising his skill as editor, even though he didn't write
any of the constituent stories.  Accordingly, that copyright is _not_ a
derivative work.

(As an aside, to forestall irrelevant quibbles, Dozois also writes
some intros and other short texts in each volume, and gains copyright
over those elements, but that's aside from the compilation copyright
title.  Other examples of collections or anthologies could be cited
where title arises _only_ from the editor's selection and arrangement.)

Wrestling this conversation back to Linux matters, it's common for
distribution publishers to assert compilation copyright over the
selection and arrangement of the contents, irrespective of any copyright
they might have in those contents.  Red Hat, Inc. does this, and you'll
find a copyright statement covering that in the root directory on CDs.
Also, I remember that SUSE Linux AG did.  As does OpenBSD Foundation.

> 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.

I hope the above explanation clarifies.

[1] E.g.,

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