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Re: License issue on tiny Javascript fragment

On Sunday 15 February 2009 10:49:17 pm Ben Finney wrote:
> "Joe Smith" <unknown_kev_cat@hotmail.com> writes:
> > This new version is the very definition of a function too trivial to
> > copyright
> That's a pretty strong assertion. The “very definition of” as
> defined where? Or what, exactly, are you claiming?
> You also seem to be under the misapprehension that “to copyright” is
> something that a creator does to a work. It's not. Instead, copyright
> is an automatic monopoly granted *to* the creator; under the Berne
> convention, nobody decides “to copyright” a work.
> Or, more briefly: copyright long ago stopped being a verb, and is now
> a noun. It's now more akin to a very insidious attribute that slithers
> into just about any human intellectual work usually uninvited, and is
> very difficult to eradicate completely from the work.

Wow... ideological ax to grind?

> > even the variable names and whitespaceing are as non-creative as
> > possible.
> “Difficult to read” isn't the same thing as “non-creative”. On the
> contrary; you have demonstrated that someone can creatively decide on
> different creative expressions of the same work, to the extent that
> you contrast your expression with one that differs in its uses of
> variable names and whitespace.

He didn't say "difficult to read", he pointed out that his variable names are defined by what they do and thus highly functional. It is like writing a book where your characters are named "Hero" and "Villain". You aren't going to be getting a copyright on just the names in the way that J.K. Rowling has with "Harry Potter".

> Moreover, I'm not aware of a valid legal theory that use of variable
> names or whitespace have any bearing on whether a particular work is
> subject to copyright.

Then you aren't looking very hard. Of course, you already made it perfectly clear how you feel about copyright in general, but one of the central premises they teach you about copyright law in law school is that copyrights can be "thin" or "weak". It's not to say that such a  work doesn't have a *some* copyright, it is to say that one has to work VERY HARD to actually infringe it. Thin copyrights generally require verbatim copying to be infringed, where a more substantive copyright is easy to infring via derivative work or the theory whose name I can't remember that says "you had access to the original, so you probably used it as a copy".

> Given all that, I'd be very wary of taking the above quoted claims as
> having any meaningful application.

I must say Ben, you're entire email just drips of hash judgment. Here's a dude, Mr. Joe Smith, who is trying to do something helpful by providing a clean room implementation of the javascript code... doing something, instead of just saying what *ought* to be done like the all previous responders in this thread. Instead of saying thanks, you decide to just tear him to shreds? What sort of a community do you think this should be? Good grief...

To Joe, it would be nice if (if you are the original author of the clean-room code you provided) to give explicit notice of the license you are distributing it under so that Colin Turner (the original questioner) can package it up and provide a proper copyright notice. Beyond that, thanks for your efforts.


Sean Kellogg
e: skellogg@gmail.com
w: http://blog.probonogeek.org/

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. 
We are the ones we've been waiting for. 
We are the change that we seek. 

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