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cc-licenses - Re: [cc-licenses] can someone check this wrapper for me?

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Subject: Development of Creative Commons licenses

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  • From: Terry Hancock <hancock AT>
  • To: Discussion on the Creative Commons license drafts <cc-licenses AT>
  • Subject: Re: [cc-licenses] can someone check this wrapper for me?
  • Date: Wed, 25 Jul 2007 13:19:17 -0500

drew Roberts wrote:
> On Monday 23 July 2007 10:32 am, B. Jean wrote:
>>>You can't put the work on a web site? People do that all the time with a
>>>web link to the cvs or other version control system. Or am I
>>>misunderstanding you big time?
>>What you can't do, is to display the code on the website.
> But this is precisely what I am saying people do all the time...
> Interesting that they don't have the right to do so. Is sourceforge guilty
> of
> massive contributory damages. (Or whatever the term is...)

IANAL, but...

Two thoughts:

1) Quoting a work under *any* license for academic or review purposes is
legal under fair use. Putting code snippets on a site in order to
explain functionality or demonstrate properties of the code surely falls
under this exemption to begin with.

2) Although putting something on a website can be regarded as "public
performance" it can also simply be viewed as "distributing copies".
Since the GPL defines an allowed process for doing the latter, such
practices (even beyond the limits of fair use) should be possible so
long as the license text and a link to the source are provided (but it
*IS* the source you are providing). Note that a snippet of GPL'd work is
also a separable GPL work*, so there is no "copy in full" requirement here.

* AFAICT, two separate theories make this true: 1) a copyright license
allows partial reproduction as well as complete, and 2) a partial copy
can be regarded as a derivative work (the original contribution being
the removal of extraneous material). There's no requirement in the GPL
that the software distributed work, therefore the fact that the snippet
is not compilable isn't an issue.

Of course, the line between "distributing copies" and "performing
publically" may well be drawn differently in different jurisdictions.

However, in most discussions of GPL code, "public performance" is taken
to mean *running* the program on a website, if it means anything at all.
This argument has been used to suggest that Google is violating the
license by "publically performing" software that is under a copyleft
license, without sharing the source code. OTOH, they're still doing it,
so that must not be a very strong argument. (?)

So I find the idea of regarding the publishing of the source code on a
website to be "public performance" a little strange.


Terry Hancock (hancock AT
Anansi Spaceworks

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