Artistic License (license to steal?) - Open Source copyrights


R

raylopez99

Be afraid, if you code for money, with this recent ruling on Artistic
Licenses.

I'm not an authority in this area, but it seems to me that now if you
read somebody else's code and copy it, and that code has a 'artistic
license' in it (whether or not you agree to it or even read it), your
commercial code has to be released to the public domain (see point a)
below). Or, you have to 'rework' the code so it's not the same as
before. Actually this last option--option "c)" below--the 'reworking'
of the code--is less harsh than I thought--it's not a clean room
rework (in that you have to show that you've never seen the code
before), just a rework after the fact. So make sure to always rework
any code with an artistic license in it, so that only the ideas
therein are used and not the form / format of the ideas. Interesting
in that the Artistic License option "c)" requires you to write a man
page (!) to justify your reworking of the code--who has time for that?
I guess, since no time period is stated, you can write the man page
when you get sued by the copyright owner?!

See yesterday's court decision in the USA on artistic licenses
(follows the Wiki entry below).

RL

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artistic_License

You may otherwise modify your copy of this Package in any way,
provided that you insert a prominent notice in each changed file
stating how and when you changed that file, and provided that you do
at least ONE of the following:

a) place your modifications in the Public Domain or otherwise make
them Freely Available, such as by posting said modifications to Usenet
or an equivalent medium, or placing the modifications on a major
archive site such as uunet.uu.net, or by allowing the Copyright Holder
to include your modifications in the Standard Version of the Package.
b) use the modified Package only within your corporation or
organization.
c) rename any non-standard executables so the names do not conflict
with standard executables, which must also be provided, and provide a
separate manual page for each non-standard executable that clearly
documents how it differs from the Standard Version.
d) make other distribution arrangements with the Copyright Holder.


-

Open-source pact subject to copyrights law - court

NEW YORK, Aug 14, 2008 (Reuters) - A U.S. federal appeals court has
ruled that the holder of a copyright to a computer programming code
made available for free public download can enforce an "open-source"
copyright license to control future use of the work.

The ruling on Wednesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal
Circuit is seen as having important ramifications for the licensing of
open-source software. Open-source proponents had argued that
individuals who do not adhere to the conditions of an open-source
license should be subject to copyright infringement claims.

The appeals court reversed a lower court ruling that had denied a
preliminary injunction to plaintiff Robert Jacobsen, a hobbyist who
made software used for model trains available through free downloads.

Jacobsen had brought copyright infringement claims against developers
of commercial software products, contending they did not follow terms
of the software's license. The lower court had ruled that copyright
claims did not apply, but that Jacobsen could pursue breach of
contract claims.

The distinction is important because the potential remedies under
federal copyright law are much stronger than under contract law, said
Jacobsen's lawyer, Victoria Hall. She called the appeals court
decision "a fantastic ruling."

It "shows that open-source groups can protect their code under
copyright laws, and this is a ruling that other open-source groups can
use," she said on Thursday.

An attorney representing defendants Matthew Katzer and Katzer's
company was not available to comment.

Open-source software makers share the source code of their computer
programs, allowing users to help change or improve their software and
redistribute it. It is a collaborative approach to software
development, unlike the proprietary approach by companies like
Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), which
generally keep software code secret.

Jacobsen had accused Katzer of copying materials from Jacobsen's
website and incorporating them into a software package without
following the terms of an open-source agreement called the Artistic
License

The lower court, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of
California, had interpreted the Artistic License to permit a user to
"modify the material in any way." But the appeals court said
conditions in the Artistic License were vital to enable the copyright
holder to retain the ability to benefit from the work of subsequent
users.

The appeals court sent the case back to the district court for further
proceedings to review Jacobsen's request for a preliminary injunction
again. (Reporting by Martha Graybow)
 
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J

Jon Skeet [C# MVP]

raylopez99 said:
Be afraid, if you code for money, with this recent ruling on Artistic
Licenses.

No, be afraid if you code for money and try to use other people's code
without looking at or abiding by the licences for that code.
I'm not an authority in this area, but it seems to me that now if you
read somebody else's code and copy it, and that code has a 'artistic
license' in it (whether or not you agree to it or even read it)

If you start copying code without even checking its licence, you
deserve all you get.
your commercial code has to be released to the public domain (see point a)
below).

Nonsense. You just need to abide by the licence, which will usually
mean including a copy of the copyright notice etc somewhere in your
distributable.

Plenty of people use open source code in commercial products and get by
just fine, abiding by the licence. Of course, there's another
alternative: if you don't want to abide by the licence, don't use the
code!

Heck, just today I received a mail from someone explaining how he
planned to do that with part of MiscUtil and checking it was okay -
which of course it was.
So make sure to always rework any code with an artistic license in
it, so that only the ideas therein are used and not the form / format
of the ideas.

Or - and you may think this idea is a bit quirky - abide by the terms
of the licence! What a novel concept!
Interesting in that the Artistic License option "c)" requires you to
write a man page (!) to justify your reworking of the code--who has
time for that?

So pick one of the alternative options listed in the licence.
 
K

Ken Foskey

Be afraid, if you code for money, with this recent ruling on Artistic
Licenses.

The facts of the case above are that the person took a whole application
and distributed it after some minor modifications, ie they did not do
much at all to the whole thing. It was outright theft. How would you
feel if someone stole your application that you were selling and then
distributed it. What is the difference?

Artistic, GPL and LGPL are licenses, Public Domain is a totally
different thing. You need to read and understand copyright or else you
will fall foul of things.

I am entitled to dictate how my work is used, ie copyright. I use Open
Source licenses to protect my work from unauthorised use. For me,
unauthorised use is taking my work and using it in a way that is no
longer free, as in open to others to use. I do paid work and it is
copyright to my employer and it is closed source, I would never steal
that code and use it because of copyright as well.

Note that most open source software is fine to use and modify in in house
applications because it is never distributed. Google does not release
all their code changes to the public, a fair number of their changes make
their way back because it is a smart business model.

Ken
 
R

raylopez99

Note that most open source software is fine to use and modify in in house
applications because it is never distributed.  Google does not release
all their code changes to the public, a fair number of their changes make
their way back because it is a smart business model.

And when they make it back into the commercial world, if that code is
'closed' you run afoul of the artistic license, no?

Bottom line for most of the people reading this thread: trust the
public obfuscator is doing a good job hiding your code, else the
copyright owner of the code you cribbed is likely to sue your
employer! (long after you, the programmer, have moved onto another
job).

RL
 
R

raylopez99

Or - and you may think this idea is a bit quirky - abide by the terms
of the licence! What a novel concept!

You clearly have never read the license, whose salient points I posted
in the OP.

So pick one of the alternative options listed in the licence.


But that was one of the alternatives. And then people wonder how
employers get sued over copyright infringement, with employees as
sharp as the ones in this group.

RL
 
J

Jon Skeet [C# MVP]

You clearly have never read the license, whose salient points I posted
in the OP.

Yes, I did. (Both first and second version.) Your idea of "the salient
points" certainly isn't the same as mine.
But that was one of the alternatives.

Yes, but not the only one. That's my point. Option c requires you to
write documentation, but if you don't want to do that you should look
at the other options.
 And then people wonder how employers get sued over copyright
infringement, with employees as sharp as the ones in this group.

What, because we think it's a good idea to read the licence associated
with code before using it, and because we understand that "do at least
one of" isn't the same as "do all of"?

Jon
 
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J

Jon Skeet [C# MVP]

And when they make it back into the commercial world, if that code is
'closed' you run afoul of the artistic license, no?

I think you've missed Ken's point. A lot of code in the commercial
world is never distributed outside the company - it's in-house
applications, or running on a server. At that point you don't need to
worry about the distribution clauses, because you're not distributing
your code. Yes, there's more to do if you're distributing your code -
but often it still only means giving credit where it's due.
Bottom line for most of the people reading this thread:  trust the
public obfuscator is doing a good job hiding your code, else the
copyright owner of the code you cribbed is likely to sue your
employer! (long after you, the programmer, have moved onto another
job).

That really shouldn't be the bottom line. That's like saying that the
bottom line of murder laws is "be careful to hide the body when you
kill people otherwise you'll get arrested."
The bottom line should be: understand the licence of any code you want
to use, and abide by that licence. Consult legal counsel when in any
doubt. Play nicely by open source projects - they have a lot to offer,
and the demands of the licence are usually very reasonable.

Jon
 
R

raylopez99

What, because we think it's a good idea to read the licence associated
with code before using it, and because we understand that "do at least
one of" isn't the same as "do all of"?


But the other options Jon are capitulation to the copyright owner.
Just look at them. Option "C" is the only reasonable option.

Option A: make your stuff free.
Option B: use the code in-house only
Option C: work through and make your own modifications (most
reasonable) and document your workaround
Option D: vague, but basically cut a deal with the original author of
the code you're copying

RL

a) place your modifications in the Public Domain or otherwise make
them Freely Available, such as by posting said modifications to Usenet
or an equivalent medium, or placing the modifications on a major
archive site such as uunet.uu.net, or by allowing the Copyright Holder
to include your modifications in the Standard Version of the Package.
b) use the modified Package only within your corporation or
organization.
c) rename any non-standard executables so the names do not conflict
with standard executables, which must also be provided, and provide a
separate manual page for each non-standard executable that clearly
documents how it differs from the Standard Version.
d) make other distribution arrangements with the Copyright Holder.
 
R

raylopez99

I think you've missed Ken's point. A lot of code in the commercial
world is never distributed outside the company - it's in-house
applications, or running on a server. At that point you don't need to
worry about the distribution clauses, because you're not distributing
your code. Yes, there's more to do if you're distributing your code -
but often it still only means giving credit where it's due.

Code that only runs inhouse is rare. Even code running on a server
will be deemed "commercial", because if you read the option (B)
carefully, you'll see it does in fact cover a "one copy used in-house
but interacting with the public", if that copy is commercial: "b) use
the modified Package only within your corporation or organization. ".
Do you think "only within" will cover an application that runs a
server that interacts with the public? No way Jose. That is not
covered, I'm almost 100% sure. A clever plaintiff's lawyer will
skewer you with that one. "only within" means code that only is for
benchmarking, only for prototypes, etc, that will never be
commercialized, will never interact with the public. And since a lot
of these licenses are "viral", meaning if prototype code is
commercialized it will run afoul of the copyright license, it's best
to stay away from this kind of code. At least that's what big
corporations who know better do.

But don't take my word for it...not my field.

RL
 
J

Jon Skeet [C# MVP]

But the other options Jon are capitulation to the copyright owner.
Just look at them. Option "C" is the only reasonable option.

Option A:  make your stuff free.
Option B: use the code in-house only
Option C: work through and make your own modifications (most
reasonable) and document your workaround
Option D: vague, but basically cut a deal with the original author of
the code you're copying

A) Only the modifications. Not your whole codebase.
B) Widely applicable anyway
C) Not unreasonable
D) Not particularly vague, just discretionary - happened to me a while
ago, when someone wanted to use some of my code without attribution.
They paid me for a commercial non-exclusive licence, and we were both
happy.

The important thing is that this is only talking about modifications
you make to the package. Most uses of third party code just use it
without modification, in my experience. If you *do* modify the code,
it's only the modifications that you need to open up.

What's so unreasonable about any of that?

Jon
 
J

Jon Skeet [C# MVP]

Code that only runs inhouse is rare.

Actually it's extremely common in my experience.
Even code running on a server
will be deemed "commercial", because if you read the option (B)
carefully, you'll see it does in fact cover a "one copy used in-house
but interacting with the public", if that copy is commercial: "b) use
the modified Package only within your corporation or organization. ".
Do you think "only within" will cover an application that runs a
server that interacts with the public?  No way Jose.

Absolutely I do. If you're serving up pages using a third party
library, that's in no way the same as distributing that third party
library. I've never seen *anyone* else interpret the licence as you're
doing now.
 That is not
covered, I'm almost 100% sure.  

Which part of the definition of distribution do you believe includes
using the code in order to serve up a web page (which doesn't, in
itself, include the code)? Here's the explicit definition of
"Distribute" in v2 of the licence:

<quote>
"Distribute" means providing a copy of the Package or making it
accessible to anyone else, or in the case of a company or
organization, to others outside of your company or organization.
</quote>

If my bank chooses to use a particular server-side library when
serving up online banking pages, they aren't providing me a copy of
that library or making it accessible to me in any way, shape or form.

A clever plaintiff's lawyer will
skewer you with that one.  "only within" means code that only is for
benchmarking, only for prototypes, etc, that will never be
commercialized, will never interact with the public.  And since a lot
of these licenses are "viral", meaning if prototype code is
commercialized it will run afoul of the copyright license, it's best
to stay away from this kind of code.  At least that's what big
corporations who know better do.

Everywhere I've worked has used open source code. Each company has had
a policy of examining the licence for any third party code before
using it, and then acting accordingly - either doing what the licence
says, or not using the code if the licence is incompatible with the
company's requirements. It's not rocket science.
But don't take my word for it...not my field.

And yet you're quite happy to scaremonger and incite people to break
the law based on your interpretation.

Jon
 
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A

Arne Vajhøj

Jon said:
Actually it's extremely common in my experience.

Yep.

Business app type code developed for and only used in one company
is the bread and butter of the entire IT industry. From Cobol to
ASP.NET !

Arne
 
J

J. Clarke

raylopez99 said:
Code that only runs inhouse is rare. Even code running on a server
will be deemed "commercial", because if you read the option (B)
carefully, you'll see it does in fact cover a "one copy used
in-house
but interacting with the public", if that copy is commercial: "b)
use
the modified Package only within your corporation or organization.
".
Do you think "only within" will cover an application that runs a
server that interacts with the public? No way Jose. That is not
covered, I'm almost 100% sure. A clever plaintiff's lawyer will
skewer you with that one. "only within" means code that only is for
benchmarking, only for prototypes, etc, that will never be
commercialized, will never interact with the public. And since a
lot
of these licenses are "viral", meaning if prototype code is
commercialized it will run afoul of the copyright license, it's best
to stay away from this kind of code. At least that's what big
corporations who know better do.

But don't take my word for it...not my field.

I don't understand what your problem with all this is. If you use
copyrighted code you have to abide by whatever terms the copyright
holder sets. If instead of the specific restrictions in the "artistic
license" the copyright holder just wanted you to send him a check for
ten billion dollars would you be equally upset, or would you just
decide that that particular code was too pricey for your budget and
use something else instead?
 
J

Jon Skeet [C# MVP]

MC said:
Well said.

This reminds me of arguments I had with shareware authors in the mid-1980s.
They couldn't understand why not everybody who downloaded their software
would register it and pay for it. The answer, which they didn't want to
face, is that often, it was mediocre software with a high price (relative to
hobbyist budgets), and after testing it on a free-trial basis, people
decided not to buy it.

Today -- if the license on "open source" software is too quirky, just don't
use the software.

Which is exactly right - although when it comes to just *using*
software (as opposed to modifying it and/or redistributing it) it's
pretty rare for there to be anything worrying in an open source
licence. Commercial licences are usually significantly stricter!
 
R

raylopez99

Jon said:
Which is exactly right - although when it comes to just *using*
software (as opposed to modifying it and/or redistributing it) it's
pretty rare for there to be anything worrying in an open source
licence. Commercial licences are usually significantly stricter!


Jon, you have not thought through the problem, because if you did, you
would realize 'viral software' infects all your code. Thus only
option 'B' that I pointed out is feasible--you have to rework the
code, make it yours, and thus escape this particular license. That
said, some licenses are even more unreasonble, namely common copyright
law, which basically says once you the programmer look at somebody
else's code, then put it in your own form, you may be violating the
copyright anyway, if it 'looks and feels' like the original author's
code. Actual problem: the BIOS writers in the early or was it late
1980s had to 'clean room' reconstruct the BIOS done by IBM and others
because if they did not, it would be a copyright violation. So they
got engineers who had never even seen the BIOS of the original
author(s), and made them solve the problems that BIOS addresses,
independently. This worked (they were sued but won).

A more concrete example: if you can independently, without looking at
J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter", come up with "Harry Potter", then you
don't infringe her copyright--but, if you read her works, then come up
with "Harry Potter", you do.

You have a lot to learn grasshopper...

Google and read 'viral licenses' and the problems with GNU.

Like I said, not my field so this is my last post in this thread.

RL
 
J

Jon Skeet [C# MVP]

raylopez99 said:
Jon, you have not thought through the problem, because if you did, you
would realize 'viral software' infects all your code.

Not with the artistic licence. With the GPL there would be more of an
issue, but that's a different licence - and one which *tends* to be
avoided by companies for precisely that reason.

Here's the definition of Package:

<quote>
"Package" refers to the collection of files distributed by the
Copyright Holder, and derivatives of that collection of files created
through textual modification.
</quote>

In fact, there's another clause I hadn't seen before which makes the
whole thing even simpler for most cases:

<quote>
8. Aggregation of this Package with a commercial distribution is always
permitted provided that the use of this Package is embedded; that is,
when no overt attempt is made to make this Package's interfaces visible
to the end user of the commercial distribution. Such use shall not be
construed as a distribution of this Package.
Thus only option 'B' that I pointed out is feasible--you have to
rework the code, make it yours, and thus escape this particular
license. That said, some licenses are even more unreasonble, namely
common copyright law, which basically says once you the programmer
look at somebody else's code, then put it in your own form, you may
be violating the copyright anyway, if it 'looks and feels' like the
original author's code. Actual problem: the BIOS writers in the early
or was it late 1980s had to 'clean room' reconstruct the BIOS done by
IBM and others because if they did not, it would be a copyright
violation. So they got engineers who had never even seen the BIOS of
the original author(s), and made them solve the problems that BIOS
addresses, independently. This worked (they were sued but won).

That's a completely different issue, and also inapplicable to the
artistic licence as IBM didn't release the BIOS under the artistic
licence.
A more concrete example: if you can independently, without looking at
J. K. Rowling's "Harry Potter", come up with "Harry Potter", then you
don't infringe her copyright--but, if you read her works, then come up
with "Harry Potter", you do.

And again, this isn't about coming up with a similar package, it's
about redistributing the existing package or openly modifying it. Also
again, Harry Potter wasn't released under the artistic licence, so it's
not relevant to this discussion.
You have a lot to learn grasshopper...

Funny how often you keep claiming that on all kinds of issues where you
appear to know very little.
Google and read 'viral licenses' and the problems with GNU.

And then realise that the GPL and the artistic licence are *different
things*. Yes, using GPL'd code in distributed software is a bit of a
minefield. (It's fine for software you don't distribute, however - such
as web application code that you only run inside the company.) That
doesn't mean the same is true for the artistic licence, or Apache, or
BSD, etc.
Like I said, not my field so this is my last post in this thread.

It doesn't have to be your field to realise that the GPL and the
artistic licence are completely different.

It also doesn't have to be your field for you to avoid encouraging
people to break the law.
 
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R

raylopez99

Jon said:
And then realise that the GPL and the artistic licence are *different
things*. Yes, using GPL'd code in distributed software is a bit of a
minefield. (It's fine for software you don't distribute, however - such
as web application code that you only run inside the company.)

AHA! "a bit of a minefield". Precisely my original point. Admission
acknowledged.
That
doesn't mean the same is true for the artistic licence, or Apache, or
BSD, etc.

Etc. Right. I will repeat what you said about my "Harry Potter"
analogy and simply say this was not part of the original thread. Your
admission is again noted however.

RL
 
J

Jon Skeet [C# MVP]

raylopez99 said:
AHA! "a bit of a minefield". Precisely my original point. Admission
acknowledged.

Please read carefully. I wrote that using *GPL'd* code can be a
minefield. That's *not the same as the artistic licence*.

If this whole thread had been about the GPL, it would have been very
different. But no, your original point was about the artistic licence.
From the very start of your very first post:

<quote>
Be afraid, if you code for money, with this recent ruling on Artistic
Licenses.
Etc. Right. I will repeat what you said about my "Harry Potter"
analogy and simply say this was not part of the original thread. Your
admission is again noted however.

My "admission" about the GPL, which in no way affects what I've written
about the GPL? Feel free to note it however you wish, but don't try to
make out that it applies to the artistic licence.
 
R

raylopez99

Jon said:
If this whole thread had been about the GPL, it would have been very
different. But no, your original point was about the artistic licence.
From the very start of your very first post:

<quote>
Be afraid, if you code for money, with this recent ruling on Artistic
Licenses.

Yeah but look at the terms of the artistic license--it's nearly as bad
as GPL (not that I've studied GPL but I can imagine). As I pointed
out to you, there's not much you can do with works covered by artistic
license except modify it (and documenting all changes with tedious man
pages), negotiate with the owner, or, on a point we dispute, use it in-
house (I say if the in-house use is ultimately for commercial
purposes, it doesn't qualify as 'in-house' but you disagree--on this
point we agree to disagree).

RL
 
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A

Arne Vajhøj

raylopez99 said:
Yeah but look at the terms of the artistic license--it's nearly as bad
as GPL (not that I've studied GPL but I can imagine). As I pointed
out to you, there's not much you can do with works covered by artistic
license except modify it (and documenting all changes with tedious man
pages), negotiate with the owner, or, on a point we dispute, use it in-
house (I say if the in-house use is ultimately for commercial
purposes, it doesn't qualify as 'in-house' but you disagree--on this
point we agree to disagree).

The terms distribution is rather well-defined in relation to
open source licenses.

And Jon is right and you are wrong.

http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#UnreleasedMods
http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html#InternalDistribution
etc.

BTW, you should have been able to figure it out, because an
open source license can not prevent commercial usage.

http://www.opensource.org/docs/osd (item #6)

And your hole tirade is completely meaningless. The
artistic license is rather permissive. The only way
you can come in conflict with that is if you
deliberately want to steal.

Arne
 

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