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Re: LGPL module linked with a GPL lib

On 8/4/05, Michael K. Edwards <m.k.edwards@gmail.com> wrote:
> It's a _little_ more abstract than real property ownership, which is a
> lot more abstract than possession of a chattel; but it's rather less
> abstract than, say, ownership of a 401(k) account -- a device where
> you have limited control of some numbers in a brokerage firm's
> computer, and the changes you request may or may not result in the
> actual "trading" of some mutual fund "shares", which in turn once in a
> while results in the "trading" of "common stock" of some companies,
> which means God knows what.  Yet the law has no great difficulty with
> that kind of "property" either.  If you're looking to set this kind of
> a limit on the property abstraction, you're about 400 years too late
> (joint stock companies; 300 for copyright, of course).

I'm not sure how you're quantifying abstractness, but there's a
significant difference between 401K accounts and intellectual 
property.  401K accounts are more more limited in scope, and
are much more regular in concept.

With intellectual property the rules are, by definition, new for
each property.  (Well, for copyrights and patents -- trademarks
all follow pretty much the same pattern and your analogy is good
for that case.)

>From experience, when you break into new intellectual ground, you're
going to make mistakes.  Worse, the intellectual breadth of our 
civilization is so broad that what's new for some community is
hundreds of years old for another.

And, yet, the thing that "legitimizes" intellectual property is
that it's something "new" and "previously undiscovered".
(At least for copyrights and patents.)

> > And note that I've never claimed that intellectual property cannot be
> > the subject of law.  I've instead been claiming that such law can never
> > equal the laws for real property.  There's simply too much uncertainty
> > about the domain for that to work.
> Intellectual property law is so much simpler than real estate law (let
> alone securities law), and so unlike your "property rights on shadows"
> straw man, as to make this whole line of inquiry quite fruitless.

What's not simple about "property rights on shadows"?

For that matter, why is this a straw man?  Remember, this is America.
You can sue anyone for anything.  

(That said, in existing law you still wind up dealing with the boundaries
associated with real property.)

> > In those cases, the problem is not one of physics, but one of
> > choice.  The properties could be surveyed more precisely,
> > if someone cared enough to do so.  With intellectual property,
> > there is nothing to be surveyed.
> Dude, it's just _not_that_hard_.  The copyright, patent, and trademark
> systems work just fine.  How do I know?  Because in almost every court
> case in this area I read about, one side or both is a bunch of
> assholes.  Very, very rarely do you see the bellwether of bad law -- a
> case where two parties who are minding their own business, coloring
> within the lines, living and letting live, and peaceably making a buck
> wind up duking it out in court.  You get a few cases where both sides
> seem sincere about thinking they were in the right, but wound up in a
> competitive conflict that hinged on a subtle point -- cases like
> Fogerty v. Fantasy and Lotus v. Borland.  But you get a lot more cases
> where it's hard to have much sympathy for either side, like Sun v.
> Microsoft and Napster v. RIAA -- cases where greed meets greed and
> they're either fighting over the scraps of a deal gone wrong (usually
> an ill-conceived deal in the first place) or tussling over who
> controls _access_ to a market where square deals are few and far
> between.

Tell that to Mike Jittlov.  Or, Courtney Love.  Or, ...

In other words, the existence of people happy with a situation
doesn't mean that all people are happy with all situations.

And, ultimately, copyright exists because it makes some people

> > Compare:
> >
> > http://www.law.cornell.edu/copyright/cases/202_F3d_1227.htm
> >   "Aalmuhammed never had a written contract..."
> >
> > with
> >
> > http://www.gnu.org/prep/maintain/html_node/Copyright-Papers.html
> >   "Before incorporating significant changes, make sure that the person
> >    who wrote the changes has signed copyright papers and that the Free
> >    Software Foundation has received and signed them."
> Sorry, I didn't make my point clear here, though I've made it on
> debian-legal before.  Aalmuhammed could not exert any of the rights of
> a copyright holder because his contribution did not rise to the level
> of authorship on any work that could stand in isolation. 

If the facts of all copyright cases were identical, I'd agree with you.

However, (for example) given the way interfaces are treated in 
copyright cases, and given that a computer program is rife with 
interfaces, this needn't be the triviality you make it out to be.

> (Stand as a
> coherent chunk of creative expression; please don't go haring off into
> copyright-irrelevant engineering criteria like whether it can be
> executed without linking to some other stuff first.)  I do not find it
> remotely plausible (IANAL) that patches, even quite extensive patches,
> knowingly contributed on GPL terms and incorporated by a maintainer
> who retains creative control, represent any obstacle to "GPL
> enforcement".

I'm not sure why you want me to pretend that issues of fact -- such
as linking -- are not relevant to copyright.

Issues of fact can be relevant, but but their relevance is strictly 
determined by the context.

> Now as I said, I don't think I'd do anything differently in RMS's
> position with regard to the XEmacs situation -- the mistakes made on
> all sides there are long in the past, and it's best to just let the
> fork go on its merry way.

I think you've lost track of why you asked about this in the first

>  Where he goes wrong, IMHO, is in not
> fully respecting the law as it is, and in employing tactics on behalf
> of his "ethically superior" strategy which he condemns when an
> ordinary profit-seeking business tries them.

I don't know what you're talking about here.  RMS is very careful
to follow the law.  Expressing disagreement with its design does
not mean he's not fully respecting it.


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