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From "Dennis E. Hamilton" <>
Subject RE: A systematic approach to IP review?
Date Thu, 29 Sep 2011 05:53:42 GMT
Let me recall the bidding a little here.  What I said was

" It is unlikely that machine-generated files of any kind are copyrightable subject matter."

You point out that computer-generated files might incorporate copyrightable subject matter.
 I hadn't considered a hybrid case where copyrightable subject matter would subsist in such
a work, and I have no idea how and to what extend the output qualifies as a work of authorship,
but it is certainly a case to be reckoned with.

Then there is the issue of macro expansion, template parameter substitution, etc., and the
cases becomes blurrier and blurrier.  For example, if I wrote a program and then put it through
the C Language pre-processor, in how much of the expanded result does the copyright declared
on the original subsist?  (I am willing to concede, for purposes of argument, that the second
is a derivative work of the former, even though the derivation occurred dynamically.) 

I fancy this example because it is commonplace that the pre-processor incorporated files that
have their own copyright and license notices too.  Also, the original might include macro
calls, with
parameters using macros defined in one or more of those incorporated files.

I concede that copyrightable matter can survive into a machine-generated file.  And I maintain
that there can be other conditions on the use of such a file other than by virtue of it containing
portions in which copyright subsists.  For example, I don't think the Copyright office is
going to accept registration of compiled binaries any time soon, even though there may be
conditions on the license of the source code that carries over onto those binaries.

And, yes, it is murky all the way down.

 - Dennis

-----Original Message-----
From: Dennis E. Hamilton [] 
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 22:32
To: ''
Subject: RE: A systematic approach to IP review?

Not to put too fine a point on this, but it sounds like you are talking about boilerplate
(and authored) template code that Bison incorporates in its output.  It is also tricky because
the Bison output is computer source code.  That is an interesting case.  

In the US, original work of authorship is pretty specific in the case of literary works, which
is where software copyright falls the last time I checked (too long ago, though).  I suspect
that a license (in the contractual sense) can deal with more than copyright.  And, if Bison
spits out copyright notices, they still only apply to that part of the output, if any, that
qualifies as copyrightable subject matter.  

Has the Bison claim ever been tested in court?  Has anyone been pursued or challenged for
infringement? I'm just curious.  

 - Dennis

-----Original Message-----
From: Norbert Thiebaud [] 
Sent: Wednesday, September 28, 2011 22:11
Subject: Re: A systematic approach to IP review?

On Wed, Sep 28, 2011 at 7:55 PM, Dennis E. Hamilton
<> wrote:
> I'll stand by my original statement.
> I'm not going to get into the Pixar case since it doesn't apply here.

I did not say it applied to the Visual studio generated cruft... I
merely commented on the blanket assertion that 'computer generated =>
no copyright'
> The Bison manual may have license conditions on what can be done with the generated artifact,
but I suggest that is not about copyrightable subject matter in the artifact.
Actually it is. The only claim they could legally have _is_ on the
generated bit that are substantial piece of code copied from template
they provide, namely in the case of a bison generated parser the whole
parser skeleton needed to exploit the generated state-graph. the whole
paragraph is about the copyright disposition of these bits. and in the
case of bison they explicitly grant you a license to use these bits in
the 'normal' use case... my point being that the existence of that
paragraph also disprove the assertion that 'computer  generated => no

You could write a program that print itself... the mere fact that it
print itself does not mean you lose the copyright on your program...

That being said, I do think you are on the clear with the Visual
Studio generated cruft... but not merely because there is 'computer
generation' involved.


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