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From "Berin Loritsch" <blorit...@apache.org>
Subject [LAW] Quick Lesson in Copyright Law (was RE: copyright for docs [was: Re: [Bugs] URLSource])
Date Mon, 20 May 2002 13:09:38 GMT
> From: Andrew C. Oliver [mailto:acoliver@apache.org] 
> 
> Oh man, the docs copyrights should be assigned to the ASF.  
> What a pain otherwise.

According to U.S. Copyright Law, your copyright is a real
(as in Real Estate) property that is intangible, but assignable.
You can bequeath your copyright, donate it, or by your discression
not use it (given to public domain).

Also according to copyright law, any original work is _implicitly_
copyrighted whether you register that copyright or not.  Therefore,
you may easily add the copyright notice without registering the
copyright.  The registration is a legal way of having record that
the content in question was in fact prior art should we need to
go to court over the issue.

A U.S. copyright after 1971 lasts for the artists/authors lifetime
plus 50 years.  Before that time, it was 25 years renewable once
for an additional 25 years for a maximum of 50 years.  That's a long
time.

Considering the changing nature of most Apache or technical sites,
the information on the site can quickly become outdated.  The act
of registering a copyright is therefore only really suggested for
works in an unchanging format: like books, music recordings, sheet
music, etc.

While IANAL, I had a crash course in Copyright Law taught by Al
Schlessinger, one of the top lawyers in the field (he represents
people like Janet Jackson and other really big names).  While I
don't know enough to practice law, I know enough to give the
backgrounder information.  I have a good understanding of the
overview of copyright law--but not any real depth (the class was
only a couple of weeks long).

If you want to know any more than that, ask some specific questions.
I will give you as specific an answer as I have.

BTW, if you place the Copyright by Apache Software Foundation tag
on your documentation (as will be done when published on the site),
you have effectively donated your copyright to the ASF.

A copyright gives you the right to control the distribution of your
work, maintain the identity of the author, and extract fees or royalties
from its use.  There are standards for what a royalty fee is for
recorded music, as well as for print materials.  I am not up on what
the current standards are.  The standards represent the minimum
that someone has to pay in order to use your work--if you are collecting
money.  Some artists have negotiated bigger slices of the pie for their
works than others.


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