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Re: Is license text copyrightable? [was: Re: Is OSL 2.0 compliant with DFSG?]

Don Armstrong wrote:

> 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
> found.]


Hmm.  I wish I could find the case I was thinking of.  I think it boils down
to there being no significant originality in specific legal verbiage, once
the uncopyrightable idea behind the contract or license has been chosen. 
But that's just from vague recollections.

> 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[1], 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]
> Don Armstrong
> 1: As always, I'm not a lawyer or qualified to have an opinion beyond
> that of a layman's.
Me neither.

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