[tex-live] let's make some decisions

George N. White III aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca
Sun Feb 8 14:25:40 CET 2004

On Sat, 7 Feb 2004, Karl Berry wrote:

>     or take one of those open document licences
> As I've said before: although I would like to do that, the problem with
> *any* license where someone holds the copyright is that then that
> someone has to get assignments for changes (at least to do a good job).
> With public domain, that is not the case.

I think it would be wise to get expert advice on this.

Particularly with all the efforts to prolong various protections on
intellectual property here needs to be some mechanism to release copyright
on "abandoned" texts -- thinking mainly of those owned by defunct
companies where it is impossible to find anyone who can grant permission
to use the material.

>     (just wondering, what if some publisher prints the docu and then
>     claims copyright so that we can no longer distribute it with tex live;
> Although a publisher could print it, and could probably claim copyright
> on what they printed, that wouldn't affect us.  The original public
> domain document remains in the public domain.  Otherwise, the concept of
> public domain would be meaningless.  For instance, someone could reprint
> the Gutenberg Bible and claim copyright on it.  Or so it seems to me ...

The real threat isn't that a bad guy would loose in court but that they
can make you miserable with unfounded claims.  Suppose in a few years
Win32 users all switch some new OS derived from multics with wonderful
security.  A big bad company ports TL2010 and claims copywrite on the
docs, patents on the methods, and invokes the DMCA against anyone who
attempts a port. It would be a practical impossibility to have an open
source port, not because the bad guy is on solid legal ground, but because
the cost of going to court is prohibitive.

Public domain is fine for things that have a high profile and deep-pocket
defenders, e.g., Gutenberg bible, but copyright can clarify the status of
a document and make it much harder for the bad guys to find a laywer
willing to push their claim.

George N. White III  <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
  Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia, Canada

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