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From "Dennis E. Hamilton" <dennis.hamil...@acm.org>
Subject RE: Source form Re: What constitutes a source release?
Date Fri, 03 May 2013 15:24:54 GMT
The GPL goes on and on about this, as does discussion around the Open Source Definition.  Also,
the license will apply to copyrightable subject matter, and that is a consideration too.

Basically, the use of preferred form is an instruction to the contributor, that the source
code be the form that the contributor uses as the form at which the contribution is *expressed*
and maintained.   

The contributor is not supposed to add impediments (including any form of obfuscation or use
of an intermediate form that is not what the contributor uses to maintain the contribution
-- now what isn't the original work of authorship).  

There are cases where the form licensed is mechanically produced and downstream contributors
of derivatives end up having to work with that form since an upstream contributor did not
satisfy the source-contribution condition.  (HTML pages are an example, the text-format tables
used in spelling checkers is another.  In the first case, an HTML page might be easily maintained
independently, in the second case, only painfully.
There is a problem with assumed tool chains, and tool-specific artifacts (e.g., Visual C++
project files, and make files that depend on unique features of a particular processor), but
that seems to be an issue independent of this particular one.

Now that there are compilers for custom languages that now emit JavaScript (or Java or C [think
YACC/LEX output], ...) it is sometimes desirable to provide both forms in a contribution,
simply because the contributor preferred form might not be usable by downstream recipients.
 But what the preferred source of the contributor is, and what constitutes the licensable
work under copyright, in fact, does not change.

 - Dennis

PS: What I just blurted out does not seem to deal with the case of open-source font files
very well.  Part of it has to do with exactly what is the copyrighted work of authorship in
the case of fonts, and how does that extend to binary forms for digital rendition of those
font shapes.  When is infringement, absent the license?  I imagine this has been dealt with
somewhere, just as it has for binaries of executables (although that might be an exception
written into the copyright law in the case of the US).

-----Original Message-----
From: Daniel Shahaf [mailto:d.s@daniel.shahaf.name] 
Sent: Friday, May 03, 2013 05:13
To: Santiago Gala
Cc: legal-discuss
Subject: Re: Source form Re: What constitutes a source release?

Santiago Gala wrote on Fri, May 03, 2013 at 14:09:35 +0200:
> On Thu, May 2, 2013 at 9:54 PM, Daniel Shahaf <d.s@daniel.shahaf.name>wrote:
> > Sam Ruby wrote on Thu, May 02, 2013 at 15:24:29 -0400:
> > > We may very well have to look at each specific font to determine what
> > > the "preferred form for making modifications" would be.
> >
> > Why are you saying "the" preferred form?  Probably because ALv2 says so,
> > but wouldn't it be better to s/the preferred/a preferred/ in the
> > definition below?
> >
> I'm not a native English speaker, but "a preferred form" does not sound
> precise. I guess "a suitable form" (versus "the preferred form amongst the
> suitable ones") would be more precise.

Perhaps it should say "A most-preferred form".

*shrug* I guess that's not really important, given that we don't appear
to be collecting ALv3 issues anywhere.  


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