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Re: [Q] copyright on binary packages



Apologies for not following up to the messages on the list.  I'll cut
and paste your replies into my original message.  I hope I didn't put
anyone's quote in the wrong context.

Brian Thomas Sniffen <bts@alum.mit.edu> writes:
> Matthew Palmer <mpalmer@debian.org> writes:
> > Brian Thomas Sniffen <bts@alum.mit.edu> writes:
> > > Matthew Palmer <mpalmer@debian.org> writes:
> > > > Olaf Meeuwissen <olaf@epkowa.co.jp> writes:
> > > > 
> > > > > I've been "pestered" by the people who pay for the development of
> > > > > several of our packages to add a blurb claiming copyright on the
> > > > > *binary* packages we build and distribute.  Binary packages built
> > > > > and distributed by others are not to be covered by this copyright
> > > > > claim.
> > > > 
> > > > I think it goes beyond impractical -- I believe it's not
> > > > legally enforceable.  The transformation from source to binary
> > > > form does not contain any elements of creative input; the
> > > > process itself is trivially reproducable, and with the same
> > > > set of inputs you will produce identical output every time.

Thanks for this hint.  Indeed the transformation from source to a
binary package is as simple as

  $ fakeroot dpkg-buildpackage

in the top level source directory or

  $ rpmbuild -bt source.tar.gz

I've since looked at some of the national copyright laws (cursorily)
and most of them seem to only protect works that contain at least some
original work, creative effort or work of mind.  These binary packages
would at best classify as derived or compiled works and all the laws I
looked at state the derivation and/or compilation does not affect the
copyright claim(s) of the author(s) of the original(s).  In my case, I
think the sources count as the originals and building a binary is a no
brainer --> no original work, creative effort or work of mind is added
to the derived/compiled work --> nothing you can claim copyright on.

Right?

By the way,
http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/ev.php-URL_ID=14076&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html
has a nice collection of links to national copyright laws, but I guess
you already knew that.  In case it matters, I'm in Japan.

> > > But the copyright is still held by the author of the source.
> > 
> > Indeed.  But that's not the issue at hand.
> > 
> > > Additionally, a repository of packages, with particular selections of
> > > quality software, is copyrightable in the same way that an anthology
> > > or magazine is copyrightable.
> > 
> > Again, not what is being discussed.  The creation of an anthology or
> > collection involves creative input; two people, faced with the same
> > "possibles" set, and even the same criteria for selection, will quite
> > possibly choose differently.  The same does not apply to the compilation
> > of a piece of software, unless the build process is horribly fucked up.

Agreed.

> But these people are paying for the development of *some* packages.
> That collection probably is copyrightable.
> 
> Further, it wasn't clear to me from Olaf's message what, exactly,
> these "people" are claiming copyright to, and whether they think this
> denies any other copyright interests.

They would like to claim copyright to individual binary packages
(debs, RPMs, whatever).  I've already asked what the licensing
conditions of such packages would be (considering that the sources
include source copyrighted by different authors and licensed under
different conditions).

> > > > I'd be interested in what purpose they're trying to serve by claiming
> > > > copyright protection over the compiled form, especially when they're not
> > > > trying to claim protection over builds produced by others.  Could a
> > > > trademark do what they're trying to achieve?

I don't know what purpose they are trying to server.  I'm just one of
the developers involved that knows a bit about copyright and licensing
issues.  We just get told (second hand) add this and that copyright.
I doubt though that a trademark serve their purposes.

> > > > > Now this strikes my as pretty off-the-wall and impractical, but I
> > > > > am wondering whether anyone knows of "prior art" in this area.  If
> > > > > you can come up with good reasons NOT to include such a copyright
> > > > > notice, by all means let me know because I would be much happier
> > > > > without yet another licence/copyright wart on our packages.
> > > > 
> > > > Because it's bloody ridiculous?  Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be a
> > > > persuasive argument in the corporate world these days.

You could say that again.  Here it's even worse because most of the
people involved know enough English to understand other countries'
copyright law.

> > > > > # I've got to convince proprietary software licence/copyright law
> > > > > # veterans that have not the foggiest idea about FLOSS, it seems.
> > > >
> > > > Of course.  You don't have to convince the ones that *do* have
> > > > the idea already...

:-)

> > > > > Thanks in advance,

Again thanks to all who responded.
-- 
Olaf Meeuwissen                            EPSON KOWA Corporation, PF1
FSF Associate Member #1962           sign up at http://member.fsf.org/
GnuPG key: 6BE37D90/AB6B 0D1F 99E7 1BF5 EB97  976A 16C7 F27D 6BE3 7D90
Penguin's lib!       -- I hack, therefore I am --               LPIC-2



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