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Re: mined copyright with no copyright

"Mauro Lizaur" <lavaramano@gmail.com> writes:

> I intended to do a qa upload to fix some bugs on the package mined
> [0] which is orphaned[1], and i got a lintian warning about the file
> debian/copyright where it has no copyright holder,

Rather, that the copyright holder is not identified.

> when i asked to the upstream maintainer of this issue he answered me
> this [2]

The reply you got from Thomas Wolff says, in part:

    Hello Mauro,
    originally (i.e. ~ 20 years ago), we took mined from the Minix
    operating system which was a free academic project,
    and the mined.doc file did not mention a copyright.
    So no, I do not think the original author could claim a copyright.
    Also he is not reachable on the net, I had already tried that
    a few years ago.

Jurisdictions that are signatories to the Berne copyright convention
make copyright *automatic* in all works that qualify for copyright at
all. So the author doesn't need to "claim a copyright" in a work, nor
even be identified at all, for copyright to apply to that work and
restrict the actions of every recipient. Such is the madness of
automatic all-rights-reserved copyright by default.

The authors of the 'mined' package need to have had license from the
Minix copyright holders to derive, modify, redistribute, and/or
sublicense the work, if they did any of those things, or any other act
reserved by copyright law. If they did get specific license from the
Minix copyright holder, that would be vital to know in this case.
Judging by the above information, they never got specific license for
these actions.

It seems, then, that the 'mined' package is either not redistributable
at all (if it was derived and redistributed in breach of copyright),
or is redistributable only under the terms of whatever the license
terms were of Minix "~ 20 years ago". Those terms were, IIRC, not
DFSG-free, since among other restrictions they limited the field of
endeavour for use of the work.

> what should i do in this case?

You've already pursued this for quite a way along the needlessly
twisting and overgrown paths that copyright regimes engender. Thanks
for your efforts.

Unless the copyright lineage can be properly traced, I don't see a lot
of hope to get this package as free software.

 \         "People's Front To Reunite Gondwanaland: Stop the Laurasian |
  `\           Separatist Movement!"  -- wiredog, http://kuro5hin.org/ |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney

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