Linus Digs Into Copyright Law and Notices Something Useful

Friday, December 05 2003 @ 01:52 PM EST

Contributed by: PJ

Linus must be getting over his revulsion at all things legal. He has put his brain to work on the law, and now that he's in Groklaw mode, he has found something beautifully useful and ironic at the same time. Look what he found, and yes, I am impressed:

"I ended up looking up the exact wording of the US copyright law for the definition of 'derivative', and guess what I find a few lines below it:

'The term "financial gain" includes receipt, or expectation of receipt, of anything of value, including the receipt of other copyrighted works.'

"This is from US Code Collection, Title 17 (copyrights), Chapter 1, Section 101: 'Definitions'. In short, this is from the very first section in copyright law - the thing that defines terms even before those terms are used. What I'm trying to say - this is some pretty fundamental stuff when it comes to copyrights in the US. Pertinent, if you will.

"And note how copyright law expressly includes 'the expectation of receipt' of anything of value, and expressly mentions 'receipt of other copyrighted works' as such a thing of value. And that's the _definition_ of 'financial gain' as far as copyright law is concerned.

"And guess what the GPL is all about? Maybe you can explain to Darl how the GPL is _designed_ so that people receive the value of other peoples copyrighted works in return for having made their own contributions. That is the fundamental idea of the whole license - everything else is just legal fluff.

"So . . . when he attacks the GPL as being somehow against 'financial gain', that notion that the GPL has of 'exchange of receipt of copyrighted works' is actually EXPLICITLY ENCODED in the US copyright law. It's not just a crazy idea that some lefty commie hippie dreamed up in a drug-induced stupor.

So if Darl calls that notion unconstitutional, he is actually attacking the US code as it stands today.

"If you want to check that legal quote yourself, the place to go is

"Ehh? Irony.


Linus is way cool.