If some algorithm is written in some programming language and licenced under APACHE2 and I rewrote it in another programming language, should the new code be considered as a derivative work or it is a separate work?

  • Request for clarification: Do you mean a literal translation (i.e. not just the same algorithm, but the same implementation of that algorithm, in the other language) or a new implementation of the given algorithm? Nov 16, 2021 at 14:38
  • @preferred_anon the second one
    – asmmo
    Nov 16, 2021 at 14:47
  • There's a misunderstanding here. The implementation of the algorithm is licensed under APACHE2, not the algorithm itself. Dec 17, 2021 at 14:13

1 Answer 1


It’s a derivative work

Translations of literary works (whether from French to English or C++ to Java) are derivative works.

  • 1
    I did not think algorithms could be copyrighted. Rewriting is not the same as translation.
    – doneal24
    Nov 16, 2021 at 16:13
  • @doneal24 if you haven't, Professor Stallman has something to say about software patents and copyrighted code in general. Dec 17, 2021 at 14:14
  • 1
    @Mindwin Stallman has some "interesting" ideas on patents in general, not just in the area of software. I would not take his talks (often dating to 2002 or before) very seriously.
    – doneal24
    Dec 17, 2021 at 17:30
  • @doneal24 never take anyone's talks seriously without knowning the context, bias, and motive of the speaker. Yet software is plagued by the trifecta of public domain (algorithms are mathematical expressions and cannot be under either of the following two), patents (which theoretically had to be bound to some physical specialized circuit but the patents department likes money), and copyright (as software is sometimes considered "creative works"). It is a bloody mess. Dec 24, 2021 at 12:15
  • @doneal24, algorithms can't be copyrighted, but implementations can. Creating a new implementation of an algorithm from an old one without using any of the copyrighted aspects is tricky -- see, for example, the lengths Compaq went to when cloning the BIOS of the original IBM PC.
    – Mark
    Apr 16, 2022 at 3:04

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