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Re: [HACKERS] Copyright

From: Don Baccus <dhogaza(at)pacifier(dot)com>
To: Bruce Momjian <pgman(at)candle(dot)pha(dot)pa(dot)us>, Philip Warner <pjw(at)rhyme(dot)com(dot)au>
Cc: The Hermit Hacker <scrappy(at)hub(dot)org>, "Ross J(dot) Reedstrom" <reedstrm(at)wallace(dot)ece(dot)rice(dot)edu>, Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>, Peter Eisentraut <peter_e(at)gmx(dot)net>, PostgreSQL Development <pgsql-hackers(at)postgreSQL(dot)org>
Subject: Re: [HACKERS] Copyright
Date: 2000-01-29 06:14:38
Message-ID: (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-hackers
At 12:42 AM 1/29/00 -0500, Bruce Momjian wrote:

>In fact, there can be an argument that we were never open since 1996
>because we didn't have any copyright covering years after 1996, and
>there is an implied copyright to all works, even if not stated.

Licenses compliment copyright, pure and simple.  In other words, as
a photographer ( I defend my copyright, yet
I give permission (license) students and a wide variety of other
people to make free use of my work.  Yet I still charge other 
entities for this right.  

When I license my work for use, I in no way diminish my copyright.
This is true even if I release it into the public domain, i.e. if
my license says "you can use this for whatever you want!".  I still
don't waive my copyright (though I've shot my foot in terms of 
getting damages for use, because if you say folks can use your
photos for free you can't expect to get paid when they accept your
license terms for free use!)

License...copyright...not the same.

>Now, I don't mean to suggest that this was intended, but the more I
>think about it, the more I wonder.  We have never enforced the
>copyright, so there may be no legal basis for it, but I believe there is
>some muddy water here.

Last time I looked (which I admit was like 15 years ago) enforcement of
copyright wasn't actually an issue.  What's an issue is getting 
compensation for unapproved use.  This is where a registered copyright
comes in (you can collect punitive as well as actual damages and the
standard of proof of ownership is far, far lower where you've registered
the copyrighted entity - if you don't register, you can only collect
actual damages.  Since punitive damages can be 3x actual in the US,
you can see why lawyers are more interested in taking a case regarding
a registered copyright on contingency than one regarding an unregistered
copyright - plus the standard of proof of ownership is less).

Of course, it's hard to prove damages or even 3x punitive damages
when you GIVE YOUR STUFF AWAY FOR FREE! :) probably haven't given up any rights to sue someone for
"using my stuff without permission that I give away for free" but
your compensation for these extra copies that would be free anyway?

Not enough to cover your legal costs...

The above ignores licensing, the PG license makes it clear we don't
have to ask permission to use this stuff.  In essence, the PG 
license is stating that the copyright holders and otherwise code
owners are granting lots and lots of freedom to the recipient.

You can't legally win saying "I gave it away for free with no
restriction, but I still own the copyright and have changed my
mind, and now these folks have to pay!".

[you could for FUTURE distribution, but not past]

Despite all the above, things get cloudly when (say) the PG 
core gets together in Fiji for a big bash and coding party
and a Tsunami wipes everyone out at once and PG, Inc is left
without owners, only heirs of owners...

Worth worrying about?  I don't think long as the latest
release was still out there with the current license, other
folks around the world could pick it up and any greedy PG, Inc
heirs would be left without a leg to stand on.

Not because of copyright, because of the license agreement under
which we are granted the use of the copyrighed material.

>This all started because I asked about copyright issues around Christmas
>(as someone reminded me), and we agreed to copyright the code via
>PostgreSQL Inc.  Now that we have done that, it seems we may have a
>little more to do. can't just copyright someone's work without their permission.
When (say, Peter) makes a contribution you can't just say "OK, now it
is copyright PG, Inc" if Peter didn't agree to this arrangement.  Because
he has copyright in his code.  Of course, his code isn't worth much without
the rest of the 250,000 lines of PG but that's not the point.

I think the idea of looking at the Apache Foundation's sound, because
it is possible they've looked more deeply into this and have found

I suspect that everyone here has the same general impression of what is
wanted, but getting the *bleeping* legal structure organized to recognize
it is difficult especially given the inheritance issue (with the original
UC license).  

Face it, the legal framework in the US isn't really set up to cater
to those who work hard and give their work freely to others...PG, Inc
etc needs to be creative.

- Don Baccus, Portland OR <dhogaza(at)pacifier(dot)com>
  Nature photos, on-line guides, Pacific Northwest
  Rare Bird Alert Service and other goodies at

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