For example, a C repository built upon the ideas from a (say) JavaScript project - is it a derivative work based on the latter?

To clear things up little bit, i'd give a more detailed example; Imagine an open source compiler written in JavaScript implements in its code base a high quality code optimization algorithm its authors have discover'd; my question is, can other works, no matter open source or not, incorporate the algorithms in their own code (which might not have been written in the same language as the code whose ideas it is using) and still not be consider'd "derivatives" (partially at least) of the oiginal work?

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    A project that's ported to another language is still derived from the original project. Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 18:45
  • @ratchetfreak I think you're wrong. Google duplicated java without changing the same language and it's unclear wether or not they infringed copyright. Under the arguments used in that court case, I think if Google had done just a few things differently (like changing the language) then they would have had a clear victory and been ruled as not infringing Oracle's copyright. Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 20:40
  • The question in the title can be easily answered: No. Take any GPL-library that is called from another than its own programing language (and don't subscribe to the 'linking is irrelevant' pov). The question in the body is a different one, in my opinion - a C project can be based on the ideas of another C project as well. OP, which question would you really like to be answered? Commented Sep 28, 2015 at 21:37
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    @AbhiBeckert My understanding is that Google duplicate the Java API, which is a very different matter from porting an algorithm or procedure. Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 6:10
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1 Answer 1


Algorthms and ideas are not elligible for copyright.

As long as it hasn't been patented you can create your own implementation without worrying about copyright (just make sure you copy the algorithm not the code).

If you're not sure, contact a lawyer.

  • thanks for the response; please correct anything i've gotten wrong, does it mean people can derive their work from another work, doing so without causing their work to become a "derivative work" (copyright-wise? )
    – user2807
    Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 8:37
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    @icefapper many things are not eligible for copyright and for those things, it is impossible to infringe on copyright in any way (including derivative works). if you're worried you should ask a lawyer, I haven't seen enough details about your specific case to give you a bulletproof answer and I'm not a lawyer anyway. Commented Sep 29, 2015 at 9:59
  • It really depends on whether you used the ideas, or if you "translated the code." The latter would certainly be considered a derivative work. Commented Oct 2, 2015 at 20:00

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