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Re: Release plans

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: Release plans
Date: Wed, 27 Aug 2008 14:00:37 +0900

Robert J. Chassell writes:

 > "Stephen J. Turnbull" <address@hidden>, are you saying that
 > copyright law does not have to do with copying between people?

Since I have no clue what you might mean by "copying between people",
no, I'm not saying any such thing.

In the U.S., and I believe similarly for other jurisdictions,
copyright law regulates not only copying but distribution,
performance, and other such social activity.  Nevertheless, a specific
agent (the copyer or distributor) is identified as being restricted,
and IANAL but AFAIK receiving an illegal copy in good faith is not a
crime nor are you liable for civil damages (of course, you must give
up the copy on request of the rights holder).

 > "Stephen J. Turnbull" <address@hidden> wrote, which I disagreed
 > with with respect to the actual practice of law

 >> Freedom *means* that you may do something without concern for
 >> interference from your government or your neighbors. ...

Er, when did you mention the "actual practice of law"?  I seem to have
missed it.

 > The question is whether software copying studying, modifying, and
 > redistributing over the next generation will remain as legal or illegal
 > as it has in the past generation.

Um, no, my question was "what does 'communitarian freedom' mean?" and
you still have made no visible attempt to answer it.

As for this new question you've introduced, none of those *acts* are
legal or illegal as such, so you seem a bit confused as to the actual
practice of law.  Rather, the right to perform those acts is reserved
to "owners", and they are by that token prohibited by law for others
until permission is granted.[1]

So what you are now asking is "will we expropriate existing exclusive
rights, and stop issuing them in the future", I guess?  I certainly
hope we don't expropriate them entirely, although I would like to see
the retroactive term extensions reversed as unconstitutional[2], and
future grants dramatically reduced or even eliminated.

By the way, although studying software is specified among the four
freedoms, it was never made illegal by copyright law, until the DMCA,
and there only a very restricted subset of software is illegal to
study.  It's just impossible to study it if you don't get a copy, and
acceptance of a EULA binding you not to study it is often a condition
required to acquire a copy.  But that is governed by contract law, not
copyright law.

[1]  However, for nearly all software applications I wish to use,
versions are available for which copying, modifying, and
redistributing are perpetually legal under copyright law because they
are covered by free software licenses.  My belief, and I suspect Tom's
is similar, is that the best way to extend that region of freedom is
to write more excellent software and distribute it under free
licenses.  Removing features from software is neither helpful to that
cause, nor is it likely to slow the growth of the non-free region.

[2]  My theory is that the Constitution explicitly says that these
franchises are intended "to encourage the useful arts", but any
putative encouragement must have happened before the original grant of
franchise---retroactive extensions are expropriating the public, pure
and simple, to no conceivable good (except the profit of owners).

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