As we know, GPL is intended especially for software products, but it may be used for any work if the creator thinks it is OK.

If the original work and a modified work are both software, I see no problem as far as my question is concerned.

If the original work is a software, but the derivative work is not a software, there arises a problem in some cases, especially if the derivative work does not have a source code.

I will try to explain this by an example: - A video game is licensed under GPL v3. - Someone prepares a derivative work of this video game by using the story of the game, and makes a feature film, or writes a novel.

How will the GPL apply to the derivative work in this case? Of course, contacting the original creator and obtaining permission to do such a derivative work is the reasonable method, but this may not be possible at all situations.

  • If the story elements are copyrighted by the author of the software, then you need his permission to produce a derivative work of that story. The GPL only gives you permission if you supply the source code (even if the story, artwork, etc. are included). If you can't supply the source code for some reason, then you have no permission to redistribute it under the GPL, so redistributing it anyway would be the same as redistributing it without permission. – Brandin Oct 11 at 12:43
  • The GPL actually defines the source code as "the preferred form of the work for making modifications to [the work]", so in your film example you might argue that you are fulfilling this if you also supplied storyboards, scene descriptions, scripts, 3-D models for special effects, written directions intended for the cameraman, and so on, or a Written Offer to supply these things, valid for a period of 3 years. But this would be quite unusual. It is much better to just assume GPL is for software only. – Brandin Oct 11 at 12:47
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it belongs on opensource.stackexchange.com – BlueDogRanch Oct 11 at 13:44
  • 1
    I think this is a question about the legal meaning and effect of the GPL, and as such belongs on the law forum. I would vote to reopen if it were closed on those grounds. – David Siegel Oct 11 at 14:59
  • For a novel, i would think that the text of the novel is the source code. But a direct request of the copyright holder for specific permission would be a good idea, if possible. – David Siegel Oct 11 at 15:01

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