6

Say I have created a new (DSP) algorithm. Will I have some advantage if I open source the algorithm under copyleft licence (GPL etc.)? From what I know about licensing this should lock people out from using the exactly same code as closed source, but would they be able to "rewrite" the algorithm as closed source?

Note:

I fear this may actually be two separate problems:

  1. open sourcing a known algorithm
  2. open sourcing a new algorithm

I don't really know if the algorithm is new but it has not been released as open source yet. Since I am from the European Union do I need to look for software patents if I wanted to copyleft it?

  • This seems very subjective. Yes as you say they couldn't make it closed source, but by what objective standard would them re-implementing the algorithm be either an advantage or disadvantage for you? – curiousdannii Jun 8 '15 at 11:41
13

Algorithms are not subject to copyright. A particular implementation can be copyrighted, but an algorithm itself can't be copyrighted. Someone re-implementing the algorithm with their own code has done nothing to give you copyright claims against their work, and is not bound by any software license you use. That's what patents are for.

  • 2
    Note that if someone has read the code of your implementation, their own could get tainted, and be argued that is a derived work. This does not apply if they just work from the pseudocode or the mathematical description. – Davidmh Jun 15 '15 at 10:26
  • @Davidmh, that's sort of true and sort of not true. It's very common to work on "green-field" reimplementations of existing libraries/applications, having had extensive experience working in those prior applications. What has to be avoided is any "copy-and-paste." In most software languages there are standard ways of doing certain things (like iterating over collections, accessing file systems, etc.) that will be very similar in the new implementation. That in and of itself isn't enough to trigger. – dwoz Sep 3 '15 at 16:21
  • Does anyone have a reliable source for this? – LateralTerminal Nov 10 '17 at 18:03

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