I've just acquired the Hypothetical Cafe (come and visit, we serve great hypothetical food and drinks), and some fancy posh glasses*. They're so posh that an international designer did a special design for them. However, because he hasn't been to Open Source Stack Exchange, he doesn't know the wonders of open source, and kept his design to himself.

However, I've now exhausted my hypothetical budget buying them, so I'm going to have to serve open cola instead of Coca-Cola.

When I put my open cola into these fancy glasses, I am essentially producing a consumable product with mixed licenses. I am then charging H$0.98 for the production and cleaning of this product.

Technically, is this legal? I'm charging for the use of the glasses, which seems a bit legally iffy - or am I covered because people only consume the open part not the proprietary glasses?

* Disclaimer: glasses are actually from Ikea.

  • 2
    Awesome question. Love it :D
    – Zizouz212
    Jun 28 '15 at 14:41
  • 1
    THIS IS... actually a valid question.
    – overactor
    Jun 28 '15 at 14:42
  • Is the cola's license permissive or copyleft?
    – svick
    Jun 28 '15 at 19:58
  • @svick it's copyleft (GPL)
    – Martijn
    Jun 28 '15 at 20:07
  • 1
    Please, some explanations for the close votes?
    – Zizouz212
    Jun 28 '15 at 23:28

Perhaps this wasn't your intention in the hypothetical, but copyright doesn't really enter the picture here. That is, it's not the glass itself that is under copyright, it's the glass design.

Recall that copyright gives authors exclusive rights on the reproduction and distribution of creative works. Once those glasses have been sold to you (i.e. a transfer of ownership, as opposed to a license to use those glasses), the copyright holders can no longer dictate how you use that glass. For example, according to the first-sale doctrine, you can then resell, rent or destroy those glasses with impunity.

So when you serve open cola in a glass of closed-source design, you are combining an open source work with something you own, so there are no problems.

  • 1
    Many establishments expect the glass back after you finish the drink...
    – trichoplax
    Jun 30 '15 at 23:19

Pouring open cola in a glass does under most jurisdictions not meet the threshold of originality. Open cola in a glass is simply not a copyrightable concept.

Further, you are not selling the concept of open cola in a glass, the glass is a simple carrier for the product you're selling. Just as you can distribute free software on a non-free file-system, you can serve open cola from propriety glasses.

What you can't do however, is serve a cocktail containing open cola under a closed license. The cocktail would clearly be a derivative work.

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