Subject: Re: license nits on "adzap"
To: Greg A. Woods <>
From: Robert Elz <kre@munnari.OZ.AU>
List: tech-pkg
Date: 05/24/2000 13:08:11
    Date:        Tue, 23 May 2000 15:58:49 -0400 (EDT)
    From: (Greg A. Woods)
    Message-ID:  <>

This will be the last I say on this irrelevant topic...

  | The difference between "anonymous FTP" and a public
  | library is like black and white, day and night.

I doubt that is accurate.

  | Libraries don't
  | (generally) make copies of their books (i.e. they don't publish
  | anything) and they certainly don't make such copies available free of
  | charge or under any burdening agreements.

What the library does is irrelevant, just as what the ftp server does
is irrelevant, the two parties of relevance are the author, and the user.

Since photopiers were invented, I haven't seen a library without one
(usually many).  If you feel inclined, you can go into a library, take
a book off the shelf, photocopy the entire thing, and walk out with the
copy, and the only thing in place to prevent you is likely to be a sign
warning about copyright violations.

FTP servers are just the same, you can ftp in, and make a copy of
something that is stored there, and there might be a sign (banner welcome
message...) warning you about copyright, it really doesn't matter.

In both cases, unless the item in question has no copyright (so old
that it has expired, or copyright protection has been waived), or you
enter into some kind of agreement with the copyright owner, you have
violated copyright.

It doesn't matter how much it looks as if the work was available for
you to make your copy of, or how little protection there was to stop you.

  | Yes, but when the author makes figuratively infinite number of copies of
  | his or her work available via an anonymous FTP server then that work is
  | considered to be "freely available".

Considered by whom?   Do you ahve some kind of authority for that
revelation, or is this just wishful thinking?

  | Anyone who obtains a copy has a
  | legally obtained legitimate copy of their own.

I doubt it.

  | It's like buying the
  | book from the bookstore, not lending it from the library.

Not at all - when you buy a book you're (indirectly) entering into
an agreement with the owner of the copyright, and you're giving them
what they have requested (via the royalty payment most often) for
their work.   You're also buying the physical paper that the book is
printed on, but that part isn't material here, this is a discussion
about intellectual property rights (copyright).

  | You never have to give your copy back, ever.

Sure, because that is part of the agreement when you buy the book - but
it need not be that way, you could also just hire the book for a period
of time, after which you have to return it.   That isn't done, because
no-one wants that (there's no market) not because it would not be possible.
It is done all the time with video tapes...

  | It may not be freely copyable or re-distributable,

Exactly, because the author of the work didn't grant you those
rights in your agreement with him or her.  Those rights could have
been granted - most probably would be if you were willing to give
enough in return.

  | but there's not a word of the copyright law that can
  | be used to dictate what use the owner of a copy can make of it (eg. in
  | the case of a book you can burn your copy (in private) should you
  | please;

That's the paper.   And even that is not always true, think of a similar
case, where the author of a work sends a paper copy to a publisher to
be considered.   Does the publisher get to burn the copy if it pleases?
These days probably it wouldn't matter, but authors used to send their
only copy of the work away - buring the paper would also destroy the
work, and that would not be permitted (the publisher would have to
compensate not just the cost of the paper it destroyed, but also the
value of the work contained in it).

  | and in the case of software you can execute it on your computer
  | and make a million dollars through the function it provides, or take
  | down governments, or whatever).

Only of the author of the work has given you the rights to do those
things.  Some of them may sometimes be implicit, sometimes they need to
be explicit.   But you still need to have properly acquired the first
copy, and simply copying it without thought ("it was just sitting there
for me to copy") doesn't count...

  | Exactly, but with freely and anonymously available software there's no
  | contractual agreement to protect the author or control the owner of a
  | legal copy -- just copyright law to prevent such a person from further
  | distributing it

No, the copy that the copyright law protects is the first copy, when you
obtained it in the first place.   Unless you have permission from the
author to do that, which they can give or withold on any terms they like,
you are violating copyright at that point.  Later distribution would be
another copyright breach.

  | (either verbatim or as a derivative work) or from
  | using it to slander the author or otherwise claiming it to be their own,
  | etc.  No restriction can be made on what's done "privately" with a legal
  | copy (for example running sshd on a server is not covered by copyright
  | law).

If you have validly obtained the copy, and are complying with any agreements
you had to make to obtain the copy, then fine.

Aside from that, I think you need to contact an attorney, as I suspect
you have aview of copyright law that would not be the same as that
held by most courts.