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From Colm MacCarthaigh <>
Subject Re: What are we doing about...
Date Wed, 19 Apr 2006 08:42:29 GMT
On Wed, Apr 19, 2006 at 03:19:39AM -0500, William A. Rowe, Jr. wrote:
> Whoa - that's not correct(!)  Although the details are tricky, and although
> copyright no longer requires 'registration' of the copyrighted material, you
> still must claim it or lose it, afaik.  (IANAL)

Nope, not in any signatory to the Berne convention. The Copyright is the
personal property of the author, or the author's employer if the author
is acting as an agent of the employer (usually, but that's going into
employment law). 

In most countries, apart from a strict copyright assignment to some
other person (in the legal sense, including a company), there is no way
to "lose it", very few jurisdictions have the concept of a public domain
(the US is an exception here, rather than a rule) and even when they do
there is no automatic assignment to the PD just because you fail to
"mark" it as copyrighted. 

So where I live, it's simply impossible to extinguish the copyright, the
best someone could hope for is that I publish a covenant saying anything
can do anything with it, and that the courts would enforce it as a
unilateral contract (C.f. Carbolic Smoke Ball for the common law
precedent - it's a fun case to read). That's pretty much how the ASL
works here.

IANAL either, but I am studying copyright law ;)

> >The dates don't matter except as to establish
> >a minimum term for the copyright, but the real copyright is related to
> >when the author dies - not when the code was written (so we should
> >encourage young healthy committers! ;).
> Uhmmm... yes and no, the maximum (not minimum) term is interrelated to the
> death of the copyright holder, AIUI.

Nope, in all cases where there is one - it's the lifetime of the
original author. There are small exceptions, like in the case of
automated computer generated works, the term is limited from the time of
creation. So, where I live, our "configure" script copyright would last
70 years from the time of creation, rather than 70 years after the death
of the last author of

Otherwise the ownership could keep being re-assigned and the copyright
would simply never expire.

> Maybe a post-commit that looks at sources for expected patterns, e.g.
> /* Copyright nnnn-nnnn
> and autofixes them on commit?  Is that doable?

I never thought of that, it probably is, I'll take a look.

> Alternately, if svn can dump us a list of files touched in the present year,
> we might be able to script that through our usual copyright update pass.  It
> would be a pre-roll process, e.g. we would touch them as we roll a release.

That I like.

Colm MacCárthaigh                        Public Key:

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