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Re: copyright assignments

From: Greg Stein <gstein_at_lyra.org>
Date: 2001-02-23 05:37:38 CET

On Thu, Feb 22, 2001 at 10:08:02AM -0600, Karl Fogel wrote:
> [As an aside, for my personal projects, I'm beginning to think I might
> just release them to the public domain, with non-binding commentary
> describing my hope that the reader will preserve the same freedoms by
> releasing modified versions p.d. or under a free license. That
> sidesteps *all* legal issues, heh.]

This came up in another conversation recently. I never got a followup from
the guy, but he stated that it is actually impossible/difficult to truly
release something into the "Public Domain." Effectively, you are always
(legally) regarded as the Copyright Holder. Thus, you at least have
*liability* for the software.

A copyright holder has two things: all rights to the item, and all liability
for the item. A typical "license" does two things: gives rights to others
(which they don't normally have, such as copying/redistribution), and
limitation of liability for use of the product.

Lessee... there are five legal, exclusive rights a copyright holder has:
reproduction, modification/derivative, distribution, public performance, and
public display. Some of these are a bit wonky when the copyrighted work is
software, but those are the five things to consider. The safest release of
rights is to allow everybody to do all five, regardless of whether you think
it makes sense or not; if the courts don't see all five, then sticky
situations come up ("does <this> really apply to software?"; easier to avoid
the question entirely).

The most lax license which gives you recognition and attempts to limit your
liability is the MIT/X license. Go with that one. It's close enough to the
PD vision you're seeking.


Greg Stein, http://www.lyra.org/
Received on Sat Oct 21 14:36:23 2006

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