[cc-community] [cc-licenses] Most important feature: GPL-compatibility

drew Roberts zotz at 100jamz.com
Sat Jan 28 17:43:08 EST 2012

On Saturday 28 January 2012 16:07:48 Ben Finney wrote:
> drew Roberts <zotz at 100jamz.com> writes:
> > On Saturday 28 January 2012 00:21:35 Ben Finney wrote:
> > > drew Roberts <zotz at 100jamz.com> writes:
> > > > [the GPL] requires the preferred form of the work for
> > > > modifications to be given, what is that form in this case?
> > >
> > > As has been said many times: whatever is the preferred form of the
> > > work for making modifications to it. If you say we're talking about
> > > the work of expression embodied in a carved statue, the statue would
> > > seem to be the preferred form.
> >
> > Yes, but you cannot pin down that preferred form for the example
> > chains given.
> Why do you say that? The source form is defined by the GPL, such that
> there is always a source form of the work.

Because I don't see it being pinned down. (I may be being dense here but it is 
not on purpose.)
> There are problems of interpretation, that need to be figured out on a
> case-by-case basis. But the source form of an existing work always
> *exists*, it's just a matter of figuring out what that form is.

Assuming that is so for just this answer:

Who makes the call as to what it is? The copyright holder? The person getting 
the copy? The person doing the copying? Someone else?

Should the licensor have to spell out the expected source for the particular 
work when giving the license?
> If the license tried to pin down exactly what the source form should be,
> it would rapidly be overtaken by technological advancement. It's a good
> thing that is not the case.
> > I am saying they can copy it. It is just that we can suffer analog
> > degradation. Now the original and the copy are both instances of the
> > same work but are not necessarily both examples of the preferred form
> > for making further copies.
> I think that's not a problem. If it is technically infeasible to make a
> perfect-fidelity copy of a work,

It may be technically feasible for others but not for the one making the copy 
and not a part of their process.

> then a perfect fidelity copy cannot be 
> the preferred form of the work for making modifications to it.

If I wanted to make a copy of "Famous Frank's" statue, I would prefer the 
statue itself to a copy of the statue.

Let's say you bought the statue from Frank. Now you make some copies and want 
to sell them. I would prefer the statue. Thank you very much.
> If you photocopy a poem in a bad photocopier, you have *modified* the
> work

Have I? Do I get a new copyright on the modified work? I never intended to 
make a modified work, just the best copy I could with the equipment I had on 

> – and passed along the source form of the modified work (the 
> photocopy itself). The same seems to apply to any copying process that
> is limited by the physical copying process, such as sculpting.

If that is clear in law and the original is not the preferred source as 
opposed to the copy, and that is clear in law too, perhaps this is ok.
> > So, if I pass on the copy of the work I made, I cannot pass on the
> > preferred form along with my copy as I don't own the preferred form.
> If your act of copying produced a modified work, and the resulting
> object is its own preferred form of the work for making further
> modifications, then it seems you are satisfying the source requirement
> of the GPL.
> > The works can be copied, just not perfectly copied by everyone. And a
> > license which requires passing on such copies will cause problems in
> > instances where they can't be passed on.
> I don't see the GPL requiring perfect copies. It does assume digital
> information (software) and perfect-fidelity copies, but what in its
> language do you see *requiring* perfect-fidelity copies?

Try passing on object code and non-perfect copies of the source and see where 
it gets you. It certainly assumes passing on of perfect copies. At least when 
copying the work and not copying modifications of the work.

So if the assumption had no weight, you should be ok with that little working 
binary broken source idea in the above paragraph. I would not like to take 
that risk myself.

Plus there is the word verbatim in the license. Section 4.


Define verbatim:


I see that requiring perfect copies.

So that leaves us with asserting that a photocopy of the page is instead:

A modified source version? per section 5.

5. Conveying Modified Source Versions.

all the best,


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