Re: Is license text copyrightable? [was: Re: Is OSL 2.0 compliant with DFSG?]
On Mon, 12 Apr 2004, Nathanael Nerode wrote:
> However, the courts apparently never uphold claims of infrignement
> based on the use of essentially-identical (boilerplate) legal text
> in other contracts or licenses. (I think there was a case where the
> supplier of fill-in-the-blank forms sued for copyright infrignment
> and lost, but I can't look it up right now.)
That's presumably because they found that the legal boilerplate was
not a work of authorship. [At least, one hopes that is what they
If the legal text is a work of authorship, then it's copyrightable to
the extent that it is so.
It's really no different from any other work in that regards.
To my current understanding, copyrightability works
something like the following flow chart:
Authorship: Y (continue) N (not copyrightable)
The Law: N (continue) Y (not copyrightable)
By Government: N (copyrightable) N (not copyrightable)
[At least, in the US]
1: As always, I'm not a lawyer or qualified to have an opinion beyond
that of a layman's.
It has always been Debian's philosophy in the past to stick to what
makes sense, regardless of what crack the rest of the universe is
-- Andrew Suffield in 20030403211305.GD29698@doc.ic.ac.uk