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Subject: Re: a dev question about the Sansa Clip

Re: a dev question about the Sansa Clip

From: Paul Louden <paulthenerd_at_gmail.com>
Date: Sun, 31 May 2009 05:24:44 -0500

Antony Stone wrote:
> Since copyright is automatic upon creation of a piece of work, surely it isn't
> possible for anything to have "no copyright"? You don't have to register
> anything to get copyright (like you do with a trademark); you don't need to
> have any legal agreement to get copyright (like you do with a licence);
> copyright simply exists as soon as something is created.
>
This isn't entirely true. Copyright isn't some magic thing that appears
out of nowhere, it's a legal construct. The fact that in the US
something is automatically copyright when you create wasn't even always
true. In fact, it wasn't true until the latter quarter of the last
century, something that probably changed in many readers of this list's
lifetimes. And that's just the US, we must remember readers of this list
can be in many countries with many differing laws.

And even then, there's a difference between whether the author has
copyright (this can't be lost or revoked) and whether copyright
restrictions apply to a work. Copyright rights can be granted to someone
else. Thus, if someone grants equal rights to an item as they hold over
it as their creator, it has no restricted copyright. I think what was
meant by "no copyright" is that there was no *exclusive* copyright as
the rights may be granted equally to everyone.
> I agree with you completely that Open Source and Free Software are entirely
> different from Public Domain software, however I think Tomer's original
> statement about VirtualBox being out in the public domain (without the
> capitals) is meaningful. It means something is readily available without
> having to go to a specific source of supply.
>
It was clearly a statement about license though, rather than
availability, so I don't think this interpretation is sound. The
original line was "This version cannot be closed again, and will remain
in the public domain forever." in response to a statement about closed
source. If it was simply about availability, the first half of the
sentence would really be irrelevant.
> And yes, the most important part of all this is that once something is
> licensed under the GPL, it remains open for ever, including derived works.
>
This is a little bit unclear. The copy that was open-sourced remains
open forever. The original copyright holder still holds the copyright
and can re-license it under something else with later closed source
modifications, allowing the GPL version to become outdated (assuming he
can stay ahead of the curve). Whereas BSD means anyone can create
closed-source derivatives, GPL simply means only the copyright holders
(as a group) can create closed source derivatives. As you yourself
stated, you can't really give up copyright under current law, just grant
others a portion of your rights.
Received on 2009-05-31


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