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Re: Aspell-en license Once again.

On Mon, 4 Nov 2002, Branden Robinson wrote:

> On Sun, Nov 03, 2002 at 11:15:36PM -0500, Kevin Atkinson wrote:

> > Thus I will repeat my argument once again.  But, this time I would like I 
> > response to the points I made and by the end of our debate I would like a 
> > definite answer on what should be done, if anything, to resolve the 
> > problem.
> In a nutshell, there are two problems; one is Debian's and one might be
> yours, if Aspell-en is an official GNU project.
> 1) Several European Debian Developers insist that an alphabetized list
> of English words is inherently a copyrightable thing, and/or has
> intellectual property protection under some other scheme, presumably
> designed to ensure the marketability of collections of facts or other
> databases.

The question here is not if word list or copyrightable but if
if it is OK to use aspell-en.  I specially avoided this issue in my 

> 2) As I understand it, Aspell is a GNU Project, and therefore falls
> under the aegis of the Free Software Foundation.  RMS is of the opinion
> that "word lists are copyrightable"[1], but he also says that he is just
> expression his opinion[2].
> I don't know if Aspell-en is part of the Aspell project, or a discrete
> thing.  If the former, could you get an official opinion from the FSF's
> legal eagles regarding this issue?  Such an opinion would carry a lot of
> weight with Debian, even if it wouldn't be determinative.

Um, excuse me.  As a said before RMS specifically said that in the case of 
Aspell-en there was not a problem:

  I think it is safe for us to use those wordlists.  The person who
  avoided texts marked "copyright" was operating under an erroneous idea
  of how copyright law works, but if all he did with those texts was make
  word lists, this should not be a problem anyway.

> > The point is that if I did not list my sources it will be virtually
> > imposable for some one to prove in court that I violated a copyright of
> > one of the word lists used in the DEC word list.  Thus even if I did
> > violate a copyright it will virtually be unenforceable due to the very
> > indirect nature which I used the word lists.
> Well, intent is important in the law, and these words would be used
> against you in the unlikely event that someone ever tried to take you to
> court for infringing the copyright on the word list.

What about Fair Use?  Even if word lists or copyrightable all counties have 
a provision of fair use and I could argue that how I used the word list 
was within the bounds of fair use.

> > Thus I will remove the DEC word list only if 1) Debian will refuse to
> > include the English word list due to questionable copyright on some of the 
> > sources that DEC uses and 2) the wenglish package is also removed from 
> > future debian distributions since it also contains the same word lost.
> > But If I remove the DEC word list I will make a note on the reason
> > why it is removed which will include a statement by me which more or less
> > states that I think Durban-legal is being completely anneal about the
> > matter.
> I don't understand your last sentence; are "Debian" and "anal" not words
> in the word lists you've used to spell check your message?

Yes I do.  Both of the misspelled words are in my word list.  Is there a 
reason you felt the need to point this out.

> Anyway, please don't tar the entire Debian Project with this brush. It
> is a noisy few developers. ...

If I have to do something I do not fell is necessary I have every right 
call Debian-legal anal.  Or in other words I can and I will.  I said I 
will only take action if Debian-legal comes to some sort of 
general consensus.  Thus the actions I take will represent the will of 
Debian-legal.  Even if not every single person agrees with the outcome.


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