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Randy Kramer wrote:

> I'm just thinking (or not thinking ;-) ) out loud -- if an author cannot
> be located after some reasonable efforts, and if his document is
> unlicensed, could we modify his document but maintain his name as the
> original author along with a sort of disclaimer statement explaining
> that we tried the following means of locating <author> but could not
> contact him, we would still like to find him, so if you know him or can
> provide any hints we would appreciate it.  In the meantime, we have
> taken the liberty of updating his document, the current maintainer is
> _______.  I would then list everything we know about the author and what
> steps we tried to locate him.

Why not include in the licence a clause stating that, failing
"reasonable means" of contact, the author agrees to allow LDP to
authorise such changes as it (LDP) sees fit, in light of new advances in
that particular area?
> If we are polite about this, hopefully we would not offend the author if
> he does turn up, and our good faith effort to find the original author
> would seem to provide some sort of defense (or mitigating circumstance)
> in a possible legal dispute.

Also include a passage indemnifying LDP from any action if the author
fails to respond to correspondence sent to his/ her address, as supplied
with the original document?
> Even if the author has died and his heirs show up wishing to assert
> their rights to his copyright (because it's good for 70 years after his
> death), I think our good faith efforts to find the author and the
> "presumed intent" of the author in making the document available to the
> LDP or freely downloadable from some web source would give us a defense
> against any sort of claim of "malice aforethought" (if that helps us
> any).

Exactly my point - besides, how can his heirs claim rights on the
original copyright? Doesn't an articcle have to be original (i.e. your
own work) to be copyrighted in the first place? Do I have any rights to
the letters my Grandfather sent to his girlfriend from the trenches in
1914? No! They were sent to her, therefore they are her property. The
docs on the LDP site, (by the very act of submission there), are
"addressed" to interested parties, therefore, they should belong to the
intended recipients. (The internet community at large).

> I suspect a lawyer would point out we could still be sued, and there are
> lawyers that would take such a case, perhaps even on a contingency
> basis.  We can offer the remedy of immediately withdrawing the revised
> document from distribution via our web site (and afterwards create a new
> document to replace it, not based on the original).  I don't think too
> many people would force us into that position, or seek to obtain
> monetary damages, especially if we are not making money.

Very few lawyers will take on a case against a non-profit organisation
unless they are paid up front first!

> Which leads me to this question:  Is the LDP any sort of legal entity
> (non-profit corporation)?  If not, should we consider incorporating to
> shield "members" from personal liability in a potential situation like
> this?

This would be a good idea!
> Hope this leads to productive discussion,

> Randy Kramer

Hope this adds to it :-)

This Email is 100% Virus Free!
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Regards Don Hansford
SQIT Warwick
<SuSE Linux 6.4>

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