[Sugar-devel] licensing question

D. Joe sugarlabs at etrumeus.com
Thu May 24 08:11:29 EDT 2018

On Thu, May 24, 2018 at 07:25:25AM +0200, Bastien wrote:

> IANAL but I seriously doubt that "porting" an idea from one language
> to another language counts as a derivative work.  That would be very
> bad for the whole free software world.  Every FLOSS clone out there
> is porting ideas from a software (e.g. Microsoft Office) to another
> one (LibreOffice).  I think "derivative" is about lines of code, not
> about ideas.
> There might be ann issue about design sometimes, when it has been
> separately copyrighted -- but copyright on code does not cover design
> ideas.

Ah, I was wondering if/when "IANAL" would finally pop up in this thread :)

I'm not one, either.

That said, I am aware that questions of porting and derivative work have caused sufficient concern in the past to drive people to use clean-room design in their approach to re-implementation:


If people are using clean-room design for Sugar and adjacent projects, I haven't seen it yet. :-)

In the case of free software re-implementations, the exposure to derivative work entanglements seems even greater, since the access isn't just to the binaries of the upstream implementation, but usually to the source code, as well.

One might be aware there has been ongoing concern more generally about codebases being published publically on code-sharing sites, but without any license statements. This led, for instance, to the creation of 


Similar considerations apply here: If you have access to the source code, but no license to do what you're trying to do, you can paint yourself into a corner, sharply restricting what can be done with your work (eg, who is willing to use, distribute, work with, contribute back to, your code).


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