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Neil Williams wrote:
But with this Google Books thing that is all turned on its head - and maybe with the DEB - this orphaned work issue seems to be pushed as a ruse to disenfranchise the little people while pretending to be for their good. The Google approach is to publish unless you say not - despite there already being a copyright notice (which is NOT required) in the work. The wording of the DEB seems similar. Perhaps I'm paranoid - but that doesn't mean they're not out to get me.On Mon, 15 Mar 2010 12:52:18 +0000 tom <tompotts@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:I think, what they are trying to say, is that under a section concerned with orphaned works if the copyright owner cant be traced easily then the GPL can be ignored for a payment to a body. Since most GPL software is out in the wild the copyright owner is not immediately obvious - most people just put their name but no other contact details (who want to be spammed to death?). So all MS (say) has to do it contact a couple of 'authors' with the same name, claim they've tried to contact the authors unsuccessfully and write proprietary software based on GPL works without having to return anything back to the community. I knew the bill was bad but if it really allows this it is very very serious indeed.The GPL can only ever be enforced by the original authors anyway. If the authors are uncontactable at the addresses given, the required step is to check for an updated version of the software and use those addresses. If no updated version is found or those addresses also fail, then there is nobody to enforce the GPL on that code. Dead code is dead code. Reputable people would still avoid the changing the code to a different licence (e.g. Debian would not be able to change it even from LGPL to GPL or from GPL-2 to GPL-3) but, as a point of law, there is nothing anyone can do to actually prosecute such a change. It's a matter of a loss of reputation, insulting words from important people and various other intangibles. (Along with the possibility that the uncontactable people will suddenly reappear from their seclusion once someone makes a big enough fuss.) Uncontactable authors are *only* an issue for GPL'd code with regard to licence changes - anyone wanting to maintain the code and retain the licence can do so. At this point, there is an opportunity for that person to add their contact details as a copyright holder (joint with the previous ones) and then there is at least someone who can enforce the GPL - it would be difficult to enforce unless the changes amounted to more than just a few tweaks, that person would have to be able to show that real and substantive changes occurred, although notnecessarily affecting any specific sub-sections of code.This is one reason why the FSF encourage developers to *assign* copyright to the FSF - AFAICT it hasn't been tested as to what such assignment truly means. Whether any small project would ever have the resources to properly enforce the GPL on their own is debatable - which is another reason to consider putting the FSF in the list of copyright holders. The change in the law is not how it appears - it isn't as dangerous as some are claiming. In practical terms, I consider it pointless raising a fuss over this with MP's. A copyrighted work with a clear copyright notice in suitable places is still a copyrighted work - the only issue is whether there is anyone with the right to enforce that copyright.
Tom te tom te tom -- The Mailing List for the Devon & Cornwall LUG http://mailman.dclug.org.uk/listinfo/list FAQ: http://www.dcglug.org.uk/linux_adm/list-faq.html