[Linux-aus] Meaning of object code/binary format/executable format in GPL/BSD style licenses

Benno benno at benno.id.au
Wed Sep 20 12:33:03 UTC 2006

On Wed Sep 20, 2006 at 14:07:40 +1000, Andrew Cowie wrote:
>On Wed, 2006-09-20 at 13:42 +1000, Benno wrote:
>> In particular, if I have some algorithm that converts a source file
>> into a binary representation of, for example, a control-flow graph,
>> can I distribute that binary representation, and if I do what license
>> obligations would I have?
>A critical consideration in my mind would be where copyright is held.
>Take a music player, for instance: running a copyrighted + all rights
>reserved song through a GPL licenced music player does not make the
>resultant audio stream "under the GPL" - the work (music) is still owned
>by the creator who can licence it as they see fit.
>Now, admittedly, that doesn't map terribly well to your problem as my
>music example regards transforming from one binary format to another.
>But I suspect the core issue remains: if you own the copyright on your
>source information (in this case the data for your control-flow graph)
>then you can do whatever you want with any particular representation of
>it [that you create].
>As ever, the activation of the more interesting parts of the GPL happens
>at linking and [re]distribution. If the source data results in some
>binary object that is then necessary for the loading and running of a
>GPL licenced program (as opposed to that program operating on data),
>then I would certainly argue that said source data is source code. [I
>seems to be one of the things GPLv3 is trying to be clearer about,
>though I think they've lost the plot elsewhere]

Sorry, I'll be more clear. If I have someone elses code, and the only
license I have to use it is the GPL, that gives me the right to use and
redistribute the code + binaries given some conditions.

Now, if I transform that code, say, into a call-flow graph. And lets just
assume that my call-flow graph generator is my own proprietary code. Now
I want to distribute the output.  Is that output:

1/ Modified source-code. (In which case it must be released under GPL)

2/ An object file. (In which case it also must be released under GPL)

3/ <something else>. (In which case the license gives me no right, and hence 
                      I can't distribute it.)



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