Re: Re-using copyrighted code

Discussion in 'Python' started by Chris Angelico, Jun 9, 2013.

  1. On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 6:32 AM, Mark Janssen <> wrote:
    > That's not entirely correct. If he *publishes* his code (I'm using
    > this term "publish" technically to mean "put forth in a way where
    > anyone of the general public can or is encouraged to view"), then he
    > is *tacitly* giving up protections that secrecy (or *not* disclosing
    > it) would *automatically* grant. The only preserved right is
    > authorship after that. So it can be re-distributed freely, if
    > authorship is preserved. The only issue after that is "fair use" and
    > that includes running the program (not merely copying the source).


    (Digression follows.) That was true back in the late 1800s in the US,
    but was not true in England at that time, and was solved in a
    unification of copyright laws and treaties. There was a huge issue
    over the copyright of the opera "HMS Pinafore" (by Gilbert and
    Sullivan - one of my other loves), and according to US law at the
    time, the publication (in this case, public performance, along with
    the public sale of libretti (books of the words) and some sheet music)
    of the work voided the authors' claim to ownership. There was no
    recourse against the myriad knock-off Pinafores. When the D'Oyly Carte
    Opera Company produced their subsequent operas, they tried a variety
    of techniques to secure international copyright, with limited (in many
    cases VERY limited) success. It wasn't till the late 20th century that
    the US finally signed into the international agreements that mean that
    we can depend on copyright protection world-wide.

    But we can, now. And the protection is still there even once something
    has been published. In fact, copyright protection still applies to
    works that don't have a "Copyright <year> <owner>" citation, though
    it's harder to prove then, and the lawyers would have fun with it.
    It's safe to assume that anything you find on the internet *is*
    subject to copyright, unless you have good reason to believe
    otherwise.

    Came across a nice little history of copyright here:
    http://www.edwardsamuels.com/illustratedstory/isc10.htm
    Or if you're curious about how copyright applied to the works of
    Gilbert and Sullivan, join Savoynet -
    http://savoynet.oakapplepress.com/ - and ask. There are plenty of
    experts around.

    In any case, that's all ancient history now. Unless someone can cite a
    jurisdiction that still maintains that publication relinquishes all
    rights of ownership, I would assume that things remain in copyright.

    ChrisA
    Chris Angelico, Jun 9, 2013
    #1
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  2. On Mon, 10 Jun 2013 08:07:57 +1000, Chris Angelico wrote:

    > On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 6:32 AM, Mark Janssen
    > <> wrote:
    >> That's not entirely correct. If he *publishes* his code (I'm using
    >> this term "publish" technically to mean "put forth in a way where
    >> anyone of the general public can or is encouraged to view"), then he is
    >> *tacitly* giving up protections that secrecy (or *not* disclosing it)
    >> would *automatically* grant. The only preserved right is authorship
    >> after that. So it can be re-distributed freely, if authorship is
    >> preserved. The only issue after that is "fair use" and that includes
    >> running the program (not merely copying the source).

    >
    > (Digression follows.) That was true back in the late 1800s in the US,
    > but was not true in England at that time, and was solved in a
    > unification of copyright laws and treaties. There was a huge issue over
    > the copyright of the opera "HMS Pinafore"


    No, it was not true. Mark is saying that publishing a work automatically
    revokes all the privileges granted by copyright, which is ridiculous.
    There has never been a time where copyright only applies to secret works
    that aren't published.

    The HMS Pinafore issue -- and similarly for the works of Mark Twain, and
    any other British author who had work published in the US -- was that
    their copyright in Britain was not recognised, or legally enforceable, in
    the USA.


    --
    Steven
    Steven D'Aprano, Jun 10, 2013
    #2
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  3. On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 10:34 AM, Steven D'Aprano
    <> wrote:
    > On Mon, 10 Jun 2013 08:07:57 +1000, Chris Angelico wrote:
    >
    >> On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 6:32 AM, Mark Janssen
    >> <> wrote:
    >>> That's not entirely correct. If he *publishes* his code (I'm using
    >>> this term "publish" technically to mean "put forth in a way where
    >>> anyone of the general public can or is encouraged to view"), then he is
    >>> *tacitly* giving up protections that secrecy (or *not* disclosing it)
    >>> would *automatically* grant. The only preserved right is authorship
    >>> after that. So it can be re-distributed freely, if authorship is
    >>> preserved. The only issue after that is "fair use" and that includes
    >>> running the program (not merely copying the source).

    >>
    >> (Digression follows.) That was true back in the late 1800s in the US,
    >> but was not true in England at that time, and was solved in a
    >> unification of copyright laws and treaties. There was a huge issue over
    >> the copyright of the opera "HMS Pinafore"

    >
    > No, it was not true. Mark is saying that publishing a work automatically
    > revokes all the privileges granted by copyright, which is ridiculous.
    > There has never been a time where copyright only applies to secret works
    > that aren't published.
    >
    > The HMS Pinafore issue -- and similarly for the works of Mark Twain, and
    > any other British author who had work published in the US -- was that
    > their copyright in Britain was not recognised, or legally enforceable, in
    > the USA.


    It was partly that, but there were also aspects of "you've published
    the vocal score, ergo you can't claim copyright on the opera". This,
    incidentally, ignored the fact that the *orchestrations* are a huge
    part of the quality of the show (you can't just take the piano/vocal
    reduction and perfectly recreate the magnificent sound of the
    orchestra), but the courts can't be expected to be artistic!

    Granted, IANAL, but the scholarly article I linked to above refers to
    several of the same issues. I don't know about publication revoking
    *all rights*, but there was definitely an understanding by the court
    that publication meant a reduction of copyright claim.

    ChrisA
    Chris Angelico, Jun 10, 2013
    #3
  4. Chris Angelico

    Mark Janssen Guest

    > Granted, IANAL, but the scholarly article I linked to above refers to
    > several of the same issues. I don't know about publication revoking
    > *all rights*, but there was definitely an understanding by the court
    > that publication meant a reduction of copyright claim.


    Again, I don't think I said that publication revokes "all rights", but
    it certainly opens the can of worms that wouldn't have been open had
    you kept it to yourself. So while it *exposes you*, it does not still
    *deprive you of rights*. That is what copyright is for: to protect
    you after you've exposed yourself.
    --
    MarkJ
    Tacoma, Washington
    Mark Janssen, Jun 10, 2013
    #4
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