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From Jeffrey Thompson <jt...@us.ibm.com>
Subject RE: CC-BY in context
Date Sun, 09 Jun 2013 22:56:32 GMT


"Lawrence Rosen" <lrosen@rosenlaw.com> wrote on 06/06/2013 08:16:01 PM:
> Jeffrey Thompson wrote:
> >  I think that if the specification includes code artifacts
> > (e.g., schema, DTDs) that are intended to be copied into
> > implementations unchanged, it would be helpful if the author
> > clearly stated that this was permissible w/o requiring any
> > particular outbound license.
>
> Do you have a good definition for “code artifacts”?

Well, the one in the sentence is pretty good . . . text that is intended to
be copied verbatim into an implementation of the specification.  That's to
be compared with most specification text where the implementer is suppose
to read the text, understand it, then write code that does it.  See the
difference?

>  In an email to
> Luis Villa on another list where I intended to be both ironic and
> humorous, I pointed out that the following is an important
> specification for quantum mechanics.
>
> [image removed]
>
> This version of the Schrodinger equation is beautiful enough to be
> copyrightable, and I presume it can be copied into software and its
> documentation (a derivative work?) even if it seems incomprehensible
> to non-physicists. Will this portion of a specification satisfy your
> definition of “code artifact”?

Almost anything "can" be copied into documentation. The question is whether
you can implement the specification WITHOUT copying into the implementation
somewhere.  A point that should be self-obvious is if you provide a
specification under a license which permits the text of the specification
document and accompanying materials to be licensed by implementers to their
customers ONLY under specified terms, there is a possible problem.  If, in
the act of implementing that specification, you MUST copy certain text
verbatim into the implementation, and if there is any copyrightable
expression in that text, you've effectively specified the outbound license
as well.

>
> >  While its perfectly appropriate for the Specification itself,
> > the code artifacts would be better licensed under a license
> > which allows relicensing.
>
> As I’ve argued before, “relicensing” is a bogus word; nobody can
> relicense someone else’s work. As for “sublicensing,” which I think
> you meant, that’s not necessary if *everyone* gets an identical
> license directly from the copyright owner, which is how CC-BY works.
> (FWIW, that is also how patent licenses from IBM are often worded,
> without sublicensing allowed.)
>

Regardless of what word you want to use, the effect should be that that I
can implement the specification and distribute that implementation under my
own license, even if I have to copy a schema or DTD into my code.  That
means that I can distribute that schema or DTD under my own license.

There's nothing in copyright law, itself, that requires me to pass on all
of the rights that I've received from a licensor, that is, unless the
license I received specifies that I have to do so (e.g., the GPL and,
apparently, CC-BY).

Jeff

Counsel, IBM Corporation  (914)766-1757  (tie)8-826  (fax) -7164
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