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Re: lynx-dev Re: [CHRPM]

From: Philip Webb
Subject: Re: lynx-dev Re: [CHRPM]
Date: Tue, 19 Nov 2002 05:15:42 -0500
User-agent: Mutt/1.4i

021119 David Woolley wrote:
> 021119 Doug Kaufman wrote:
>> If there is no one ready and able to enforce the GPL for lynx, then
>> it is a matter for conscience and ethics rather than law.
> The problem is that any one of the copyright owners can block an exception
> in respect of their code, forcing a rewrite of that code,
> even though you need all of them to permit one.

this discussion is largely hot air.  (1) none of us is a lawyer,
which shouldn't be a barrier to trying to understand how the law works,
but does mean we aren't experts on the most technical aspects of it.
(2) copyright law, at the best of times, is complex & unpredictable,
even with highly qualified counsel arguing before a senior court.
(3) copyright & patent laws vary unpredictably between jurisdictions
& over time, adding a layer of chaos to the whole affair.
(4) copyright & patent claims re software are a recent phenomenon
-- a/a eg treason, which originated in the English Treason Act 1351 --
& there is a host of open questions how to apply legal concepts to the area.
(5) this unexplored jungle becomes even murkier for open-source software,
which is developed by anarchic international groupings of individuals,
whose precise contribution to any one line of code may be unprovable.

consequently & as far as any of us could hope to determine anything,
DK's appeal to the legally reasonable man is probably our best guide.
if we were faced with a crisis -- eg someone tries to use Lynx code
in an otherwise closed-source program for his own profit
& someone with standing started legal action to enforce the GPL -- ,
a court would probably expect us to make a "reasonable effort"
to find & consult all those who had contributed to Lynx,
typically as identified in the change log:
that might involve sending messages to their last known e-ddresses
& publishing notices at Internet sites such people typically read:
cp court-approved distribution of property of a defunct non-profit group.

SUPPORT     ___________//___,  Philip Webb : address@hidden
ELECTRIC   /] [] [] [] [] []|  Centre for Urban & Community Studies
TRANSIT    `-O----------O---'  University of Toronto

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