What happens to the GPL in FPGA & VLSI implementations?
email at greglondon.com
Sun Mar 20 20:53:27 EST 2005
drew Roberts said:
> On Sunday 20 March 2005 12:02 pm, Rob Myers wrote:
> Any why is the binary not considered a recipe, which other's have stated is
> not subject to copyright?
I'm guessing because a recipe for cake is completely functional.
3/4 cup sugar, one stick butter, 4 eggs, put in bowl and mix.
But software and other code has quite a bit more room
for creative expression. Some people have a very
distinct signature and you could tell their software
without a single comment attached to it.
A cookie recipe is more like a logic table,
purely functional, and not subject to copyright.
> Ah, but aren't there indeed works which are the creation of someone's
> intellect, which are novel, which have taken some nonzero effort to create
> and which still cannot be copyrighted?
Alice's clock design book most likely.
Someone's collection of recipes for another.
Everything human requires some intellect
else they'd be replaced by machines.
But not everything human can be claimed
to be protected by copyright or patent law.
> Second, if we could find some automatic way to take a general purpose machine
> (computer) and a binary and convert the two into a single purpose machine
> that does only what the general purpose machine would do under the guidance
> of the binary, will the single purpose machine be or not be a copyright
> violation of the binary?
Hm, a very unique corner case, if I understand correctly.
i'm trying to think of an engineering design that would allow it.
The thing of it is that almost anything in ROM that is processed
by a CPU will be far too complicated to flatten out into simple
flops, glue logic, and state machines.
The logic required to do MS-Word, for example, as a purely hardware
implementation would be so huge as to be unfeasible for any time to
come, even with Moore's law.
But a simple scenario, of a ROM+CPU implementing some simple logic
being replaced by hardware would be possible. It is common to put
a small processor into a chip with a bit of executable code and
have that implement an interface to an odd piece of logic or some
unique interface. The reason is usually because if you do it with
a processor and software, you can build the chip and then tweak
the software later when you find a bug, wheras if you implement
it in silicon and there's a bug in silicon, then you've got to
spend serious money to fix it. $300K if it's a complete respin
of the chip.
But theroretically, you could take the processor code and come up
with some conversion that could turn it into pure logic,
flops and gates, with no processor and no rom. Whether or not
it's an automatic conversion I think is irrelevant.
But I think in that situation, you might be able to argue that
the software+processor reduced down into purely funcitonal logic
with no software and no processor, would not infringe on the
No clue how it would pan out in a real court case.
I am not a lawyer. This is not legal advice.
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