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Re: Is phpGrabComics legal?

Scripsit Brian Ristuccia <brian@ristuccia.com>
> On Fri, Jan 21, 2005 at 11:28:35PM +0000, Andres Baravalle wrote:

First off, irrespective of legality and morality, does Debian need
another comic downloader in the first place? There is already
dailystrips and stripclub in the archive.

>> "All comics are copyright of respective owners, and redistribution of
>> the comics is, for most comics and in most circumstances, not
>> permitted. phpGrabComics is intended for personal use only."

> Restricting phpGrabComics to personal use only will prevent its inclusion in
> Debian. Otherwise, I see no reason why the project would not include it.

I think Andres is trying to CHA with respects to law that make it a
criminal offence and/or contributory infringement to distribute a tool
that is meant for unlawful copying of the comics. The assertion that he
*indends* it to be used for things that are probably fair use might
get him off that hook.

However, I don't think that there is any need for either Debian or the
software author to fear things here. We already distibute several
peer-to-peer filesharing implementations whose major real-life use is
to distribute unlicensed copies of musical and cinematographic
works. However, the software itself is not illegal to maintain or
distribute because some legitimate uses have been cooked up.

In the same way, it is without doubt possible to dig up some webcomic
artists who are willing to allow this kind of downloading, especially
not-very-succesful ones who consider any reader a good reader. This
ought to demonstrate adequately that the software does have legitimate

On the other hand, it is well known that many more succesful comic
authors consider such automated downloading distasteful to say the
least, especially if they rely on advertising revenue to cover their
bandwidth expenses. Shipping the tool with example configuration files
that show how to grab, say, Kevin & Kell or Fans! would be a sure way
to become universally reviled in the comics community. (Even writing
and shipping the tool will be bad karma in the eyes of some even if it
doesn't get one sued).

In the interest of helping users not piss off people _inadvertently_
it would probably be a really good idea to include in the
documentation an explicit warning to only point the thing at strips
whose author has explicitly agreed to it. (This should not be a
license condition or it would make the thing non-free, but as an
informative warning it is fair game).

Henning Makholm                                   "Monsieur, vous êtes fou."

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