What happens to the GPL in FPGA & VLSI implementations?
robmyers at mac.com
Sun Mar 20 12:02:16 EST 2005
On 20 Mar 2005, at 16:14, drew Roberts wrote:
> On Sunday 20 March 2005 10:16 am, Greg London wrote:
>> drew Roberts said:
>>> Not that I disagree with the analysis or the intention behind it...
>>> but... binaries are a functional strin of 1s and 0s and yet aren't
>>> considered a copyrighted derivative of the copyrighted source they
>>> Is this just another special exception to the rules?
>> No, because the string of 1's and 0's still REPRESENT something
>> rather than being the THING-ITSELF.
> So, a binary is not functional?
It is not. If I have a CD with a binary on it, I can't get it to do
anything functional. A binary is instructions for something else to
follow in order to perform some functionality. It is the configuration
for a universal machine, not a machine itself.
Let's go back to the cookie example. A cookie recipe is not a cook, it
just tells a cook how to perform a particular act (baking cookies).
A binary is a text to be "read" by some functional system. It is not
itself a functional system. An ASIC (for purposes of this discussion)
is a functional system. It is not text to be "read".
> It is instead and artistic expression?
Copyrightable work doesn't need to be artistic or expressive. The
phrase "expression of an idea" doesn't mean expression in the starving
artist sense of emoting or having a unique vision, it just means that
you get it out into the world in some tangible form rather than it
being a fleeting thought.
To be copyrightable, work just needs to be novel and have taken some
nonzero effort to create. And it needs to not be merely functional.
ASIC designs seem to fall down on the last point.
> I want to understand this thinking both from a reasoned perspective
> and from
> the "that's just what the law says" perspective.
It is reasonable to regard a binary as not being functional, it is just
data. The fact that this data can be used by a CPU to bake cookies -uh-
run a particular program doesn't make that data functional.
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