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Re: Lossless JPEG software, a patch without a license

On Mon, Aug 04, 2003 at 06:24:24PM +0100, Steve King wrote:
> There is a "semi-official" patch set for the IJG jpeg code:
> ftp://ftp.imagemagick.org/pub/ImageMagick/delegates/ljpeg-6b.tar.gz
> which adds support for lossless jpeg files.
> There is no Copyright, README, or similar file with a license in.
> The implication, as I see it, is that the software is released
> under the same license as the main IJG code, but is that a
> legally safe assumption?

Legally, I don't believe so.  The patch is an expression of an author's
thoughts, and such is a copyrightable entity of it's own.  Unless there is
some description of what copyrights the author waives, we must assume none

Playing devil's advocate, there may actually be good reasons why the patch
is separate (I don't know, I'm not familiar with ImageMagick or the patch in
question), such as licence discrepancies, not wanting to have to release the
patch under the GPL (if IM is under the GPL) and so forth.

In all practicality, I would think that the patch author would have asserted
their copyright more formally if they had truly wanted to keep it out of the
free software pool, so I'm voting for ignorance, not malice.  If you can,
contacting the author of the patch and clarifying the licence would be
useful.  Doesn't have to be anything huge, just "Is it your intent that the
patch you authored <foo> be under the same licence terms as IM itself?"
should suffice.

- Matt

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