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Re: xfig-doc has license problems in examples

On 22 Oct 2001, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:

>John Galt <galt@inconnu.isu.edu> writes:
>> Actually they are, if they wish to effectively maintain the copyright: 
>They can choose to enforce against some people and not others, and
>have complete liberty.  By failing to prosecute one violation
>promptly, they could lose the right to prosecute that one at all
>(though they might still be able to enjoin any future copying).  
>I assume that this is a perfectly fine situation with the FSF.

Ironic, but yes, it's their right.  Of course the DoJ hasn't exactly cared 
about having willing plaintiffs for a few years now when it comes down to 
criminal tacks: look at Adobe v Skylarov(sp?).

>> Otherwise, one could claim that they were copying the CPDL instead of the 
>> GPL.  There isn't really a squatter's rights doctrine for IP, but 
>> I'd be willing to bet that sooner or later a judge is going to get tired 
>> of all of this submarine patenting and selective copyright enforcement and 
>> start handing down decisions that are remarkably similar to squatter's 
>> rights.
>For copyright, if you don't prosecute violations promptly, then you
>lose the right to prosecute that violation at all.  (I believe the
>technical term for this is "laches", and it applies to just about any
>civil case.)

laches is individual cases, I'm talking about the broad case of if you 
fail to prosecute flagrant violations, you lose the right to prosecute 
any at all.  Think of Xerox's trademark...

>Selective copyright enforcement is perfectly fine; it's just that if
>you fail to enforce against John Doe, you might lose the right to
>enforce against him at all.  But it's perfectly fine to prosecute John
>Doe but not Mary Roe, and you have complete discretion.

The only problem in this case is the laches of John Doe may carry over to 
Mary Roe by Mary claiming that she copied John rather than you.  Since the 
FSF is rather persnickitey about who it wishes to grant rights to, this 
may end up biting the FSF on the ass, but that's not our worry.  Nor is 
much about this, since the CDPL itself is not really licensed at all.  
Basically, if the GPL were to be lached by someone who used a DFSG free 
license upon their version, we could bootstrap the GPL-as-DFSG-work such 
that we don't really need to make a special case for documentation or 
licenses, and remove one of our most glaring inconsistencies.  Other than 
that, lached copies of the GPL are really just trivial excursions.

>For patents, it's even more liberal: laches never applies to patent
>violations.  So even if you let John Smith get away with it for five
>years, you can still come and sue later.  There's an explicit
>provision in law against any kind of "squatters' rights" in the case
>of patents, alas.

THAT's the first vulnerability in the whole house of cards: Unisys is 
probably going to make it to the floor of Congress sooner or later: prolly 
after the "war", that's going to start the flood of IP reform.  At least I 
hope that scenario didn't die with the Constitution....


Be Careful! I have a black belt in sna-fu!

Who is John Galt?  galt@inconnu.isu.edu

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