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Linux Journal: Derivative Works

Jan 06, 2003, 13:00 (19 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Lawrence Rosen)

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"Many users of open-source software are frightened by the term 'derivative works'. They worry they might accidentally create derivative works and put their own proprietary software under an open-source license. This is a complex topic that courts and lawyers disagree on, but I think we find definitions to ease people's concerns.

"First, a brief reminder of why the term derivative work is so important. Here's what a typical license might say: 'Licensor hereby grants you a license...to prepare derivative works based upon the original work and to distribute those derivative works with the proviso that copies of those derivative works that you distribute shall be licensed under this License.' See, for example, the GNU General Public License at www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl.html or the new Open Software License at www.opensource.org/licenses/osl.php.

"How can you tell when you've created a derivative work? The Copyright Act, at 17 U.S.C. §101, is a little vague and doesn't say anything at all about software..."

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