Subject: Re: Charging the Charger
From: "Stephen J. Turnbull" <stephen@xemacs.org>
Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2005 18:59:01 +0900

>>>>> "Joe" == Joe Corneli <jcorneli@math.utexas.edu> writes:

    Joe> But in the case of PlanetMath (or XEmacs, say), there was no
    Joe> assignment of copyright, and the only person who can charge
    Joe> for a given small chunk of content is the author.  And yet,
    Joe> planetmath.org or xemacs.org could charge for... the
    Joe> collection, because their copyright is in the collection?

    sjt>    I'm not sure what "copyright in a collection" means.

    Joe> An example might be a new book of stories by Edgar Allen Poe.
    Joe> The stories aren't copyrighted of course, but the specific
    Joe> _list_ of stories in the table of contents and the subsequent
    Joe> _fleshing out_ of the list in the book itself may be
    Joe> copyrighted.  So you could see a (c) symbol appear near the
    Joe> front of such a book, as weird as that might seem.

Oh, I understand that much.  But what do "specific list" and "fleshing
out" mean in terms of what downstream users can and cannot do with the
book?  If a particular page contains only Poe's words, may I copy it?

    Joe> Except for the people who purchase the special dispensation,
    Joe> of course! - but the thing is, a copyright holder can already
    Joe> re-license the work with whatever dispensations s/he wishes,
    Joe> built into the new license.  So the incremental benefit to
    Joe> purchasers is "false".

Assuming you only purchase from _one_ upstream licensor.  If there
were a standard for such "special dispensations", it would be much
easier to mix and match.  In particular, the legal department would
only have to vette GPL v3 once; then it would be a management decision
whether to buy X years of secrecy for Y dollars, even though X and Y
might vary widely across programs.  You also wouldn't have to guess
about the effect of Incompatibility Z.

    Joe> Another question is, would the introduction of a clause like
    Joe> this change what people _do_ do?

I'm sure the FSF will use it, and many will follow their lead.  Some
of the latter will sell the right to secrecy for a limited time for a
high enough price, I'm sure.

-- 
School of Systems and Information Engineering http://turnbull.sk.tsukuba.ac.jp
University of Tsukuba                    Tennodai 1-1-1 Tsukuba 305-8573 JAPAN
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              ask what your business can "do for" free software.