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Re: Short copyright notice in script file

On Friday 13 March 2009 04:54:49 pm Francesco Poli wrote:
> On Fri, 13 Mar 2009 15:45:38 -0700 Sean Kellogg wrote:
> > On Friday 13 March 2009 03:23:55 pm Ben Finney wrote:
> > > Alexander Block <ablock@blocksoftware.net> writes:
> > > 
> > > > So does this mean that it's not possible to use this script inside
> > > > Debian?
> > > 
> > > It means that Debian has no license to redistribute the work.
> > 
> > Just in the interest of clearing up common copyright law
> > misunderstandings, the right to redistribute is not a matter of
> > copyright law. If I have the right to copy a work with no further
> > explicit conditions or restrictions, I have the right to distribute
> > those copies in the same way I have the right to give away my initial
> > copy under the first sale doctrine. Copyright law is only interested in
> > the acts that involve *copying*, everything after that is controlled by
> > contract law.
> Alexander, if you want your address to be dropped from this sub-thread,
> just say so...
> Sean, what you say seems to make perfectly sense, and indeed I cannot
> find any reference to "distribution" in the Berne Convention.
> But, on the other hand, could you please explain me how it reconciles
> with the actual text of copyright laws?

Sorry for the delay in responding... I was away this weekend on a much needed mini-vacation.
> U.S. copyright law [1] states, in section 106:
> [...]
> | the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do
> | and to authorize any of the following:
> [...]
> |   (3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to
> | the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental,
> | lease, or lending;
> Italian authors' right law (legge sul diritto d'autore) [2] states, in
> article 17:
> | 1. Il diritto esclusivo di distribuzione ha per oggetto la messa in
> | commercio o in circolazione, o comunque a disposizione, del pubblico,
> | con qualsiasi mezzo ed a qualsiasi titolo, dell'originale dell'opera o
> | degli esemplari di essa
> [...]
> which roughly translates in:
> ] 1. The exclusive right to distribute deals with the act of selling or
> ] circulating, or anyway making available, to the public, by any means
> ] and for any title, the original work or its copies
> [...]
> Since IANAL, I am probably missing something important in the picture.
> Could you please explain?

Honestly... I can't reconcile the two. Not without doing a bunch of research that would require access to legal text that I don't have anymore... and even then, it may be an unanswered question (there are a bunch in copyright law). The First Sale doctrine is, of course, the best example of why Sec. 106(3) is problematic. Once I have a rightfully acquired copy of a book, I can resell that book and the copyright holder cannot restrict that. My only guess is that we need to read the phrase "distribute copies" as a very unified term. You can distribute your one copy, but you cannot copy for the purposes of distribution... that sort of thing.

It's not a very satisfying answer... but it's certainly a good question. I think, in practice, it doesn't come up and certainly isn't litigated because if someone has been given the right to duplicate freely, they probably have contractual obligations that restrain the purpose and distribution of those copies. It's the rare case that an author would allow for unlimited duplication but have a problem with distribution. If you have a problem with distribution, just limit the duplication grant.

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful,

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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