Three Monkeys, Three Typewriters, Two Days

February 15, 2003

Legal conundra

I've been wrestling with an interesting problem. On the one hand, I'd sorta like to take a look at the new inline box model that hyatt's implementing in Safari. On the other hand, if I were to do so, I run the risk of liking some of the ideas.... and maybe not being able to use them in Mozilla's code (worse yet, I may see things that I have or would have thought of myself, and then I really have no idea what would happen). I'd love some clarification of the exact legal issues here.

Summary of what I do know: KHTML is GPL, while Mozilla is MPL/LGPL/GPL tri-licensed; this means that I can't copy code from KHTML to Mozilla (while copying in reverse is perfectly fine). But the question is what the GPL covers. Is it the ideas (algorithms, approaches, etc)? Or the specific presentation of those ideas in source code form? The latter would mean that recoding the same algorithms in a different language is not a GPL violation, for example....

If anyone who actually knows what they're talking about could let me know what the state of things is, that would be much appreciated.

Update: KHTML is LGPL, not GPL, I've been told. Does that affect the answer to my question?

Posted by bzbarsky at February 15, 2003 12:23 AM