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Re: Draft Boilerplate License

On  4 Oct, David Lawyer wrote:

>> I think "derivative work" needs a short explanation. I don't think my
>> definition is tight enough, but here it is anyway:
>> "A derivative work is one that uses content from this document without
>> reference to this document."
> "Derivative" is the term used in copyright law and the meaning of it
> is in part what case law has "defined" it to mean.  It's not really
> using the content in another work since facts are not copyrighted
> (even in a copyrighted document with no license).  What is copyrighted
> is the expression and organization of the "facts".  Thus one could

I was meaning literal content, not semantic content, but anyway, I guess
that just illustrates your point.

> I mean into another language (and not a mark-up language).  The fix
> might be "a translation into a foreign language" which means "foreign"
> with respect to the language the doc is written in.  I would consider
> a change in format or media to just be a copy since it has the same
> content.

"a translation into another language" might be even better, then you
don't have to worry about what is "foreign" and what isn't. No language
should be foreign.

>>> 2. For a non-translation, discuss it with the maintainer (if it is
>>>  being maintained).  If after due deliberation no agreement with the
>>>  maintainer can be reached, then you may proceed with the derivative 
>>>  work without the maintainer's approval.

> The purpose of this is to give the author some control (but not too
> much control) over modifying the doc.  It may help prevent forks in
> the document.  In most cases, the person who wants to modify the doc

Looks like a toothless tiger to me. It doesn't look precise enough to
go into a license. The only thing that it insists the reader do is
"discuss" a non-translation with the maintainer of the parent document.

> I think that there needs to be friendly communication between them.
> But if the maintainer is unreasonable about the situation, then one
> should be allowed to go ahead and modify it anyway.  This provision is
> to require them to at least talk to each other.  Would not an author
> feel bad if they found out that months ago someone had copied and
> modified their doc (and was distributing it) without even so much as
> notifying them about it.

Happens all the time. That's the point of an open license isn't it? :)

> The problem is that too many licenses (including GPL) state just that.
> Then it's not possible to merge text from one doc into another.  One
> solution would be if everyone used GPL.  But note that GPL says that
> GPL may be revised from time to time but the new version will be in
> the spirit of the old license.

The GPL allows you to specify use of a particular version of the
license is that of concern.

Strangely, I find myself taking the position you took in response to
ESR's suggested license the last time this debate occured. There is no
point having a license that allows derivative works to take on licenses
that are arbitrarily freer, you might just as well issue the original
document as public domain.

>> "License the derivative work with any of the LDP approved licenses."
>> (presuming we do indeed agree and publish a list of these somewhere)
> This will run into the problem of licenses not being interoperable.
> Even if we allow one to use a certain license, it may not be a good
> one if it prohibits modification (even if the doc is not being
> maintained).  The "spirit" of my proposed license does ultimately
> allow modification and that feature needs to apply to derived works.

The "spirit" of a license is something that is quantified by the
precise words it uses. When you change the words you change the spirit.

>> I think this needs to be much stronger. It doesn't insist on
>> preservation of existing copyright notices. I think any reasonable
>> license should do this.
> Do you mean that the document should continue to state that it's
> copyrighted?  The work is still copyrighted at least by the original
> author.  Removing the copyright notice would be going against common
> sense.  This would imply that the modification changes are in the
> public domain and then the original author could put his copyright on

Common sense is not at all common. You might be surprised how close to
home this particular issue is.


terry@albert.animats.net, terry@linux.org.au

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