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Re: LYNX-DEV Copyrights, UKans et al.

From: Klaus Weide
Subject: Re: LYNX-DEV Copyrights, UKans et al.
Date: Fri, 7 Mar 1997 17:33:51 -0600 (CST)

On Fri, 7 Mar 1997, Foteos Macrides wrote:

> Subir Grewal <address@hidden> wrote:
> >I see no
> >harm in the "Lynx Developers group" holding the copyright to Lynx as it
> >currently stands.

Stating that a "Lynx Developers group" owns the copyright in a
notice doesn't make it so.

> >I respect Richard Stallman as much as the next guy, but on many issues he
> >has fixed ideas that may not apply very well to Lynx's position so I'd
> >suggest we take anything from that quarter with a grain of salt.  

I think we haven't heard anything from "that quarter" yet, at last not 

> >As for
> >the UKans relationship, I've been in touch with Michael Grobe regularly
> >and he's been very gentlemanly about everything.  I suggest we discuss
> >this issue with him as well, if possible since he would have a grasp of
> >the issues involved.

Definitely, since the file about_lynx/COPYHEADER, still distributed with
Lynx, claims:
/* Copyright (C) 1995 University of Kansas.
   Any licensing or usage questions should be directed to Michael
   Grobe <address@hidden>.

> >What I'd really like though, is Fote's comments on this whole discourse
> >since I believe he was one of the forces behind getting Lynx GPL'd and I
> >suspect this stemmed from a concern as to the future of Lynx and the Lynx
> >Developers group's legal standing as far as the code/documentation goes. 
>       I'm not keen to comment on the whole discourse, because my
> personal opinion is that it is seriously misguided.  I can only
> reiterate what I wrote on this subject in the discussion preceding
> release of v2.7, which I believe still applies to the v2.7 distribution,
> plus bug fix replacements.
>       A good deal of what is in the libwwwFM is encompassed by the
> CERN copyright on the v2.14 libwww, and everything else is encompassed
> by the 1995 UKans copyright, which explicitly states that it does not
> override institutional or personal copyrights held by contributors
> who were not employed at UKans.  I.e. two academic institutions, and
> everyone who has ever contributed to Lynx, collectively hold copyrights
> on the distribution.  By virtue of inclusion in the distribution, it
> is all encompassed by the GNU General Public License, i.e., can be
> redistributed, used, and further modified, without license fees.
>       I don't know what the "Lynx Development Group" actually is,
> and there is no reference to it in any of the Lynx distributions.  I
> also doubt that by further modifying Lynx, any person or group could
> acquire the right to override the copyrights held by CERN, UKans, and
> all other contributors through v2.7 + bug fixes, nor could they override
> the GNU GPL, which applies both to the existing, and any subsequently
> derived, code and support documents.
>       The CHANGES (and BUGFIX) files, indicate the people directly
> or indirectly responsible for the modifications and new code, and thus
> also are records of copyright holders.

Since I may have been the one who started this round (by picking on the
Copyright line in the proposed changed -help or v-ersion output), I
probably should comment:

I don't have any problem with the facts, as stated above by Fote.
My only problem is with the way the Lynx program tries to express these

Nobody has disputed so far that a copyright notice usually gives notice
of the owner of the copyright.  I believe it it meaningless otherwise.
Well, Lynx says

Lynx Version ...
(c)1997 GNU General Public License

which seems to state that the "GNU General Public License" holds the 
copyrights to Lynx - which is of course nonsense.

If the intention is to direct to the GPL, then the line 
"Distributed under the terms of the GNU Public License [Version 2]"
should be sufficient.  If it is intended that the output of -help
or -version really give notice about who holds the copyright, then
that should actually be done (maybe just with a pointer).
If it is impossible to give (a) copyright notice line(s) in an
appropriate way, tehn there shouldn't be one.

These are formalities.  There certainly are more important things to
bother about, but I would like to see Lynx do them right.

There also was an exchange last year involving some concerns from
R.M.Stallman about those lines.  (I tried to locate those messages
but failed.)  I think the concerns there have never been answered
(at least not in public).  The only thing that changed shortly afterwards
was the addition of a year to the (c) line.  (11-08-96 - HL according to
the CHANGES file.)

>       There *are* references in the distribution to the "Lynx User
> Community", many of whom are copyright holders.
>       For a copyright to have "teeth", the copyright holder(s) must
> be willing to put forth the legal expenses associated with reversing
> a copyright or associated GNU GPL infringement.  Let's hope a copyright
> or GNU GPL infringement never actually happens.

I would like to see Fote's explanation of the copyright facts, as quoted
above, included in an appropriate file in the Lynx distribution package.
As it is now, copyright information is scattered over several directories,
and there is no explanation how it all fits together.


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