Dangerous Liaisons — Software Combinations as Derivative Works? Distribution, Installation, and Execution of Linked Programs Under Copyright Law, Commercial Licenses, and the GPL

Posted: 27 Jul 2013

See all articles by Lothar Determann

Lothar Determann

Baker & McKenzie LLP; Freie Universität Berlin; Berkeley School of Law; University of California Hastings College of the Law

Date Written: 2006

Abstract

Companies have been fighting about software interoperability and substitutability for decades. The battles have usually involved wholesale copying and significant modifications of code to achieve compatibility, and the law seems fairly settled in both respects. More recently, however, software developers and users alike have started to wake up to potential problems regarding combinations of separate programs, particularly in connection with open source software: When do developers and users need to obtain specific authorizations from the copyright owners before they may combine separate programs? What consequences can they expect for failure to obtain required authorizations? Fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) regarding the answers to these questions are prevalent in all quarters and have become a prominent topic in the computer lawyer community.

Keywords: software interoperability, wholesale copying, code modification, open source software

Suggested Citation

Determann, Lothar, Dangerous Liaisons — Software Combinations as Derivative Works? Distribution, Installation, and Execution of Linked Programs Under Copyright Law, Commercial Licenses, and the GPL (2006). Berkeley Technology Law Journal, Vol. 21, 2006, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2298906

Lothar Determann (Contact Author)

Baker & McKenzie LLP ( email )

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Freie Universität Berlin ( email )

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Berkeley School of Law ( email )

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