[sf-lug] need advice: GPL licensing question

Jeff Bragg jackofnotrades at gmail.com
Thu Sep 13 12:02:00 PDT 2007

Well, I'm no lawyer, so it's possible I'm misinterpreting here, but it seems
to me the XML files might be covered under "System Libraries".  I know
they're not system libraries per se, but they seem to loosely fit the
general qualifications laid out in the following section taken from the
current GPLv3 (at http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-3.0.html):

"The "System Libraries" of an executable work include anything, other than
the work as a whole, that (a) is included in the normal form of packaging a
Major Component, but which is not part of that Major Component, and (b)
serves only to enable use of the work with that Major Component, or to
implement a Standard Interface for which an implementation is available to
the public in source code form. A "Major Component", in this context, means
a major essential component (kernel, window system, and so on) of the
specific operating system (if any) on which the executable work runs, or a
compiler used to produce the work, or an object code interpreter used to run

On 9/13/07, Catherine Jones <cathjone at eskimo.com> wrote:
> Just went to hear RMS and came away enlightened but confused.
> Here's my problem. I'm writing a textile-design program (pre-alpha
> tarball available at patternand.org) that the requires following to
> run:
> (1) my own Python code (released under GPL v3)
> (2) some files I wrote containing numerical data in XML format; this
>     data describes some sample polygons and ways to arrange them on a
>     flat surface - ideas that I believe (and hope) are common math
>     knowledge in the public domain
> My question: how should I deal with item (2) above?
> Right now the numerical data files included in the tarball contain
> some labor - it took work to write them - but not original ideas.
> They're not code so much as mindless transcription of existing math
> ideas into a particular XML format I devised, a format deducible from
> my Python code.
> Currently there's a great ambiguity. The tarball includes the standard
> COPYING file containing the GPL v3 license. The Python files in the
> tarball have individual GPL v3 copyright notices attached, but the XML
> data files don't. Should they have some kind of copyright notice
> attached - maybe a Creative Commons license that's compatible with GPL
> v3?
> While the current XML data files are just examples to show how the
> program works, I may in the future want to incorporate into the
> program XML data files (mine or another contributor's) that contain
> some real artistic or mathematical creativity. What should I do share
> such content and keep it part of the commons? Any help welcome....
> Catherine
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