The next step

Manuel M. T. Chakravarty
Tue, 29 May 2001 14:42:05 +1000

"Simon Marlow" <> wrote,

> > On 2001-05-28T16:14:29+0100, Simon Marlow wrote:
> > > As I understand it, the situation is worse than that.  The mere
> > > existence of GPL code poses a threat to commercial software: if a
> > > programmer happens to read some GPL code and then goes on 
> > to use similar
> > > techniques in proprietary code, the owner of the 
> > proprietary code is in
> > > a legally difficult position.
> > 
> > Really?  I've assumed that GPL only deals with copyright, and
> > techniques one uses in code are matters of patents and trade secrets.
> Sure, but if the code in the proprietary source ends up looking similar
> enough to the GPL code, it might be hard to prove that it wasn't a
> derived work.  This is a risk you just don't want to take if your
> business depends on keeping your sources non-free.

This is the first time, I have heard about such a scenario
and I don't think that it is realistic.  For an infringement
of copyright (rather than a patent), non-trivial amounts of
code must be basically the same.  This won't happen unless
the programmer has a photographic memory or actually copies
parts of the code.

Consider that companies like IBM and SGI happily deal in
GPLed code.