[cc-licenses] Aggregation and Stronger SA

drew Roberts zotz at 100jamz.com
Mon Apr 30 18:46:36 EDT 2012

On Mon, 30 Apr 2012 23:00:21 +0200, Francesco Poli
<invernomuto at paranoici.org> wrote:
> On Sat, 28 Apr 2012 16:50:47 -0400 drew Roberts wrote:
>> On Sat, 28 Apr 2012 15:51:15 +0200, Francesco Poli
>> <invernomuto at paranoici.org> wrote:
> [...]
>> In my mind, and as I explain things, a work of mere aggregation is one
>> which has no creativity involved in the aggregation process and so does
>> not quality for a copyright.
> I think that the (implicit) definition of "mere aggregation" in the GNU
> GPL v2 is not so narrow.

Well, that's a problem with their choice of words isn't it.

> I even suspect that the (implicit) meaning of "mere aggregation" in the
> GNU GPL v2 has always been what is now explicitly defined in the GNU
> GPL v3 as "aggregate".
> So I think that the definition of "aggregate" in the GNU GPL v3 is the
> one that clarifies the requirements that must be satisfied in order to
> have a (legally distributable) compilation of GPL-licensed works and
> GPL-incompatible works.
> [...]
>> > I am under the impression that you are confusing the concept of
>> > "aggregate" (or mere aggregation) with the concept of single larger
>> > work.
>> Look, I am not sure if it is considered a single larger work in
>> copyright law language. It is a copyrighted work though. And it does
>> contain my work. And it is not mere aggregation if mere aggregation is
>> aggregation without human creativity. It is rather aggregation that has
>> enough creativity involved to get the aggregate work a copyright.
> You seem to think that only non-creative compilations may qualify as
> "aggregates".

No, in fact, non-creative compilations cannot be aggregates per the
gplv3 wording:

"is called an “aggregate” if the compilation and its resulting
copyright are not used to limit the access or legal rights of the
compilation's users beyond what the individual works permit."

gplv3 aggregates have copyrights according to this language. The
language does not say its possibly copyright.

> The fact is that I am not convinced.
> A GNU/Linux distribution (such as Debian GNU/Linux, for instance) is
> certainly a compilation of independent works distributed on the same
> medium (a set of DVDs, for instance).
> I think that preparing such a distribution involves creativity, and the
> compilation *may* thus be copyrighted (at least in some jurisdictions,
> possibly).
> Nonetheless, this distribution includes GPL-licensed works *and* may
> include GPL-incompatible works.
> I don't think that this is a violation of the terms of the GPL-licensed
> works, since I think that the distribution qualifies as an "aggregate".
> That is to say, the mere aggregation exemption of the GPL kicks in.
> [...]
>> Reading again, I think the GPLv3 may have confused language. Speaking
>> of a non-Work that is covered by copyright.
>> 'A compilation of a covered work with other separate and independent
>> works, which are not by their nature extensions of the covered work, and
>> which are not combined with it such as to form a larger program, in or
>> on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an
>> “aggregate”'
>> So far so good.
>> 'if the compilation and its resulting copyright'
>> This is where things fall apart in my view. How can the compilation get
>> a copyright without it being a larger program?
> Would you call Debian GNU/Linux a "program"?
> I don't think so.

And in actual programs, that language is fine. But we are talking how
the language works for programs that are not programs in the computer

> I certainly would not call it a "program", but a "distribution of
> packages, including many programs and other works".
> Or something like that.
> So if it's a "program", it's not a "compilation of programs".
> In this sense, when I generalized the terminology and replaced
> "larger program" with "larger work", maybe I should have used the
> expression "larger non-compilation work"...
> Would it have been clearer?

I don't know. The focus of the gpl on programs and then trying to apply
the word program to things that are not programs makes for muddy
thinking / wording.
> [...]
>> Why don't you take a shot at how photos commonly get used and explain
>> how the gplv3 copyleft provisions would affect each situation.
> I think that:

I think you could do a better job at exploring the different
possibilities here.
>  * a collection of independent photos qualifies as an "aggregate", even
> when it has a resulting copyright (due to creative selection), as long
> as this copyright is not used to harm the recipients' freedoms and the
> other criteria are met (see again the definition of "aggregate" in the
> GNU GPL v3)

So let's use real language here for your above example.

You could take my BY-SA underwater photos and put them along with your
ARR underwater photos in a coffee table book and be the only person
allowed to make and sell copies of that book. You would use the
copyrights on your ARR photos to restrict the rights of everyone else to
trade in the book. What good would not enforcing your right on the
aggregate do anyone in this instance?
>  * a book with text and photos used as illustrations does not qualify
> as an "aggregate" (in the GPL sense), because it's a single larger
> non-compilation work

What makes this a single larger work as opposed to the proposed coffee
table book of photos only mentioned above?
> Or at least, this is how I would interpret the GPL.

Try some other things. A book of text articles on a certain subject.
Some articles BY-SA and some ARR. Give us some others.

all the best,


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