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More on copyrights

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Thu Dec 9 11:48:07 2004 More on copyrights
Posted by Tony Lawrence
Search Keys: this website|copyright
Referencing: /Blog/B1168.html

Update:

I just heard from the person who submitted the article. He says (and I believe him) that he DID properly attribute the article and that it was IXorg's fault that was taken off and that they will post an apology.

I see also that SCO has properly attributed the article now.

Nothing more to see here, folks.. :-)

See /Blog/B1168.html)

Seems that IXorg may be wanting to claim that either this material was in the public domain or that it was written by Steve Dunn (original author of the FAQS I have here). That particular section was not written by Steve, but if that's what the IXorg author thought, why didn't he say so? Or if he thought it was public domain, why not say that? No, he chose instead to pass it off as something belonging to IXorg.

Let's not misunderstand something: this was submitted by a MEMBER of IXorg. It wasn't the organization itself. They are apparently blameless - a member submitted an article, they and SCO published it in good faith. It is the specific, unnamed member who has been dishonest here.

But it is IXorg who has raised these public domain/Steve Dunn issues as an excuse.

If the "IXorg" article had given credit to Steve Dunn I would have corrected the error, but I wouldn't have been pissed off. I would have seen that as an honest mistake because Steve never originally gave much indication of who submitted what. Maybe he didn't need to - maybe he wrote all the original stuff himself. When I took it over, I started noting who had submitted articles, but I didn't specially mark Steve's stuff because I didn't know where it was from and because I had to change a lot of it anyway due to being out of date. I didn't put specific copyright notices on FAQ material (legally not necessary to do that anyway) because I didn't want confusion with the original material that Steve handed over and the material I added - I didn't want someone thinking I was claiming copyright on Steve's submissions.

That was, of course, an imperfect solution. I really didn't want to make the whole thing a confusing mess, but it is, so, as I said, I really wouldn't blame anyone if they took something I added and thought it had come from Steve. At least they wouldn't be calling it theirs.

Again, with very few exceptions, most of the material on my site can be freely used with attribution. I use a Creative Commons Copyright for most articles. The FAQ doesn't specifically say that it is copyrighted in that manner, but it doesn't say it isn't either - again, I don't mind my parts being treated that way and I'm sure Steve feels the same way.

Now: other people have taken this material and published as a whole. That's fine. If the member found the FAQ at xyz.com, and said "This aricle was from a FAQ I found at xyz.com", I would have checked xyz.com, seen that they had included attribution back to the original sources, and I would have no gripe with him. In my mind, he would have reasonably attributed the material. I would have preferred that he link back directly to me, but it would have been understandable that he did not.

And again, I wouldn't have been terribly annoyed if he had said "I think this is public domain". I would have wondered about his intelligence, but not his honesty.

But you don't go taking stuff and calling it your own. That's dishonest. Mark Twains writings will be passing out of copyright soon, but that doesn't mean that Bill Crosby should republish "Tom Sawyer by Bill Crosby", does it?




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