[sword-devel] Sword license

Chris Little sword-devel@crosswire.org
Fri, 17 Jan 2003 13:25:13 -0700 (MST)

On Fri, 17 Jan 2003, Joe Walker wrote:

> >If you write your own classes in Squeak to read Sword modules, you're not
> >incorporating Sword GPL code into your work.  If you read our code to see
> >how we do it and then write your own code to perform the same functions, 
> >you're not violating our copyright.
> >
> I believe that a number of lawyers do not share your point of view. 
> Microsoft programmers are banned from reading GPL code, and IBM AIX 
> programmers are very separate from IBM Linux programmers specifically 
> because they believe there can be copyright contamination in this case.
> If I listened to a song and then went away and wrote something similar, 
> I could well be infringing copyright, and I think programs work the same.

There is some grayness in the issue, so I'll explain my point of view.  
Microsoft programmers, IBM AIX/Linux programmers, and the majority of
programmers in general use C/C++, Java, or something similar.  
Translation between these languages is relatively simple and doesn't
require a lot of creativity. Smalltalk is a considerably different thing
and C code couldn't as easily be fixed to fit into Smalltalk syntax.  
Reading something in C and replicating its functionality in Smalltalk
would be a creative process, and, I believe, ostensibly independent of our

The crux of the matter is that he is not replicating our expression of how 
to read modules but the process for reading modules.  He is looking at the 
code as an explanation of how that process occurs and re-expressing that 
process in another language rather than re-expressing that expression.  

Our expression is copyrighted but our process is not (and won't be)

> HOWEVER in a way that is probably irrelevant because if you read any of 
> the JSword code that I wrote then I'm totally happy for you to write a 
> non-GPL, open source program based on it, and I'll copy this message to 
> jsword-devel to see what Mark thinks - Mark's opinion here is more 
> important than mine because he wrote more of the Java version of the 
> Sword drivers than me.

You'll still need to clear it by Troy, since he wrote the original C