[sword-devel] Question about Public Domain

Peter von Kaehne refdoc at gmx.net
Wed Mar 18 01:10:55 MST 2009

Matthew Talbert wrote:
>> That doesn't mean it is the sole property of CrossWire, but it does mean that copyright is jointly held between CrossWire and the front end author(s). >Disagree? Ask licensing at fsf.org.
> Did you really mean to say copyright here? 

Yes, Matthew. It is the same odd copyright situation as a translated
book. I wrote the book, you translated it. I hold copyright in your
translation insofar as it is a translation of _my_ book. You hold
copyright jointly with me. Your translation would not exist without me
writing first.

If you want to sell your translation you will have to come first to an
agreement with me that you can sell. I can veto your translation going
commercial if I wanted my stuff only be distributed for free - or vice

All this because it is a derivative work.

The copyright of libsword is therefore not just a sum of copyrights of
individual lines but also a joint one. We own each others' code within
libsowrd to a larger or smaller degree and as a collective we own every
frontend jointly with the authors.

Back to the original question:

If Manu can create a main frontend routine which calls sword and calls
any number of other libraries which are mutually independent then any of
these other libraries (including those unrelated to SWORD he wrote for
the sake of his frontend) can be under any licence of many GPL
compatible ones. GPL compatible in this context means only that these
other libraries do not make demands from _their_ side on any derivative
code which contradict the GPL - e/.g. by imposing other licensing terms.

The main routine/method though is GPL. As is the programme as a whole.
I am sure that someone perverse enough can minimise the GPLness of his
frontend to the absolute minimium, but it can not be taken away.


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