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Re: Hypothetical situation to chew on

On Wed, 05 Jan 2005 18:39:04 -0800, Josh Triplett <josh.trip@verizon.net> wrote:
> Michael K. Edwards wrote:
> > Presumably this would result in a formula for copyright maintenance
> > similar to that now in place for trademark maintenance.  Personally, I
> > would not like to see this happen.
> Neither would I.  I'm not suggesting that you must "enforce" your
> copyrights in order to keep them; rather, I'm referring to various
> proposed fixes such as the Public Domain Enhancement Act, which would
> require a token fee (such as $1) after a certain amount of time, and
> expire the copyright if the fee is not paid.  This would essentially
> require you to periodically renew your copyright registration.

Or the duration of copyright could be cut back to something more
consistent with the public interest.  Any model legislative proposal
to truncate copyright will run afoul of Article 7 of the Berne
Convention, so it might as well include a complete rewrite of this
Article.  Introducing the sort of registration formality you suggest
would violate Article 5 as well, and I don't think it's a good idea;
as more and more copyright matter has been created by more and more
literate populations, mandatory registration has become less and less
practical (and less and less just, since it favors the powerful and

If one wants to remove ambiguity about the copyright status of small
contributions to a joint work, one could require either assignment of
copyright to the primary holder or formal placement into the public
domain, as the FSF does for contributions to the "official" versions
of GNU projects.  Otherwise, the only recourse under present law is a
contract clause that "goes nuclear" (rescinds the grant of license) if
the creator of a derived work refuses to extend license of his or her
copyright to later recipients.

This kind of "nuclear clause" in a license is a sure sign that a gap
in the legal framework is being papered over.  Where there's a well
understood basis in law for settlement of a dispute, there's no need
to address that kind of dispute in an offer of contract.  Courts often
invalidate or ignore this kind of clause anyway; in MySQL v. Progress
Software, the judge stated that she was "not persuaded based on this
record that the release of the Gemini source code in July 2001 didn't
cure the breach" of the GPL, despite the GPL's attempts to
self-destruct on breach.

- Michael

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