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Re: request

[preface: I'm not a lawyer.  This is intended to be common sense advice
rather than a legal opinion.  If you think your copyright on valuable work
has been infringed, you should perhaps seek legal counsel.]

On Fri, 4 May 2001, Sergio Brandano wrote:
>   We are talking about written words, carrying the name of the author.
>   These written words are being archived, indexed and re-published.

Indeed.  That's one of the strengths of a good archive - the ability to
find past discussions and comments to (somewhat) avoid repetition and
understand context if you join a topic that's been discussed before.

>   The legal owner of copyrighted material (as any author is, unless a
>   legal transfer has occurred) is the only legally-entitled distributor
>   of any such material.

Indeed.  However, giving such material to an entity whose sole purpose is
distribution of written material (like a bulletin board, newspaper
editorial page, Usenet, or a public e-mail list) is likely to be taken as
permission to distribute.

>   By subscribing to a mailing list, a person is
>   pretty far from transfering the copyrights of any posted material.

Sure, subscribing means nothing.  However, by POSTING to a mailing list, a
person is giving permission to distribute such material.  It's by no means
a transfer of copyright, but it is certainly within reason to expect that
the list manager can re-send your message to interested parties.  It's not
specified anywhere that such permission expires after X days, or that
it's limited to SMTP transfer.

It's also common practice to include such material or portions thereof,
sometimes edited for clarity, in replies made by other people.  Do you
object to this too?

If you don't want information disseminated, don't post on Usenet or send
it to a public list.  How hard can this be to understand.

>   Mailing lists (non-commercial, as Debian is) are in fact a forum of
>   friends.

Really?  I've never even met the vast majority of people who are going to
read this message.  The list likely contains some friends (and potential
friends), but is by no means limited to them.  There are likely
competitors on the list and even people I wouldn't like if I met them.
There is no requirement to read most of these lists except a valid e-mail
address or usable web browser.

Simply put, it's not a private list with a rule that messages will be
deleted after being read once by each explicitly-specified recipient.
It's a public list with unspecified distribution, and it's clear that your
messages will be seen by people you don't know and who won't necessarily
treat your words as private documents.

>   Archiving, indexing and allowing re-publication of this
>   material by other sites is now going *well beyond* the mere posting
>   of an email to a list of friends.

Indeed.  Posting to a public list implies much wider distribution than
sending an e-mail to a list of friends.  Why does this surprise you?

>   I agree. I propose a very simple solution: to archive and index
>   emails as usual, as far as the date of these emails is no older than
>   six (6) months.

Why 6 months?  If you believe that we don't have permission to archive and
distribute messages, then 6 months is just as large an infraction as 75
years.  If you believe (as I do) that by posting to a public list, you
should expect your message to be made public, then a 6-month limit is

Besides, this is Debian.  If your message doesn't meet the DFSG, it
shouldn't even be here.

>   text... Let me also repeat that the information on those messages is
>   obsolete, as there is no gain in a 1999 message on a piece of code
>   that no longer exists!

True for some messages, false for others.  Even if the information is
obsolete, the historical context may be worthwhile.  And someone may even
be trying to do something useful with a very old version of a program.

And regardless of whether it's useless, it's public and therefore should
be preserved if anyone cares to do so.  The difficulty of culling only
"useless" messages is rather daunting, and I'd much rather err on the side
of completeness.

>   I am sure that by archiving and indexing 6 months old messages only,
>   all of the above problems will disappear overnight.

Which problem exactly will this solve?  There are no irrelevant posts less
than 6 months old?  A 5 month old post doesn't violate your so-called
copyright on your post but a 7-month old one does?
Mark Rafn    dagon@dagon.net    <http://www.dagon.net/>

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