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Re: New 'Public Domain' Licence

On 6/8/05, Glenn Maynard <glenn@zewt.org> wrote:
> "Published interface"?  Again, "integrate into my software", not "link
> against a published interface".  Copy code directly into my program, and
> allow the works to merge and integrate.
> Another major, obvious example is forks.

If you truly wish to do so, you may strip your heirs, in your last
will and testament, of statutory termination rights, by the simple
expedient of ratifying an existing assignment of copyright to a
corporate entity run by the benevolent dictator of your choice.  You
don't even have to trust that benevolent dictator beyond the point at
which your work is first published under their copyright notice and a
sufficiently permissive license, as long as that license is contained
in an offer of bilateral contract such as the GPL.  (Unilateral grants
of license, with no return consideration, are terminable at will in
many jurisdictions irrespective of their ostensible term.)

On the other hand, nothing but death (or a certificate of mental
incompetence, but that's a sidetrack I'm disinclined to follow) can
legally stop someone from changing the terms of his or her will.  So
unless a person outlives his or her termination interest, or has died
and his or her will (containing the above measures) has been through
probate, you can't be sure that a grant of copyright license is
irrevocable.  Unless, of course, that person goes to the trouble of
setting up a corporate shell and handling the accounting properly to
substantiate a claim that his or her work was "made for hire" to begin

> > For 17 USC 203 (b)(1) grants you the right to continue distribution of
> > that derivative work after the termination becomes effective; and a
> > sane court is likely to hold that localized bug fixes thereafter do
> > not constitute "preparation ... of other derivative works" in excess
> > of this privilege.
> If the right to prepare derivative works is revoked, the work is clearly
> non-free, and we again have a failure of the tentacles of evil test.

Current US law does not permit a 32-year-old man to make a promise of
eternal copyright license (with respect to a work not made for hire)
binding on his 69-year-old future self.  This is generally held to be
a liberty granted to independent authors and artists (and their heirs)
in recognition of both their courage and their improvidence.  It is
quite futile to protest this feature of the law, as it dates from 1978
and is easily circumvented (if you really want to) with a little
planning and competent legal advice.

In any case, a limited exception is provided so that authors of
licensed derivative works are not robbed of similar liberties with
respect to works they have already created.  So if RMS or his personal
heir decides in 2020 to exercise his right to terminate, as of 2022,
the assignment of his copyright in the 1985 edition of GNU Emacs to
the FSF, those of us still alive will get to find out how much
reimplementation can be done in two years and/or how far 17 USC
203(b)(1) privileges with respect to a still-evolving fork can be
stretched.  :-)

- Michael

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