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Re: Identify auto tick locations

From: Peter A. Gustafson
Subject: Re: Identify auto tick locations
Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2007 18:46:15 -0400
User-agent: KMail/1.9.7

On Thursday 01 November 2007 15:51:38 Przemek Klosowski wrote:
> IANAL either, but John is right in being very cautious about avoiding
> even an appearance of copyright impropriety. The only legally accepted
> way of re-implementing copyrighted algorithms is the 'cleanroom'
> methodology where one party studies the heck out of a protected
> implementation, and writes a functional specification, and the other,
> independent party implements it.

IANAL either.  Geez, I never thought I'd actually want to have a lawyer chime 
in on something.

On copyright from:
Extent of Copyright Protection
Copyright protection extends to all the copyrightable expression embodied in 
the computer program. Copyright protection is not available for ideas, 
program logic, algorithms, systems, methods, concepts, or layouts.

On patents from:
In the language of the statute, any person who “invents or discovers any new 
and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or any 
new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent,” subject to the 
conditions and requirements of the law. The word “process” is defined by law 
as a process, act or method, and primarily includes industrial or technical 

A computer algorithm has (in recent years) but classified as a process and 
therefore must be protected by patent if it is to be protected.  Prior to that 
recent times, it had no protection.

(Untrained opinion)
The gray areas are "what is expression" and "what does it mean to copy an 
expression".  It seems clear to me that gnuplot is published and not 
patented.  No protection for the algorithm, only the expression of the 
code.  "Expression" is at the core what we are debating.

You can reimplement an algorithm after studying it in detail (think scientific 
journal, people write software all the time based on published algorithms).  
You can't copy for distribution the expression of the code (without release).  
I realize this email is not helpful, in the sense it sheds no light on 
whether the proposed code here is "copying the expression".    I agree we 
should avoid even the appearance of impropriety.  However phrases 
like "cleanroom methodology", "copyrighted algorithm", and "prose" only serve 
to confuse the problem.  

Lets cite facts and express opinions, and try not to blur that line with 
loosely defined or poorly understood language.  Otherwise we'll all be 
lawyers. :)


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