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Re: Copyrights, plagiarism and other nonsense

At least I tried to move it to "discuss" (it bounced. sigh.)


----- Forwarded message from Dan Scott <dan.scott@acm.org> -----

Date: Sun, 26 Nov 2000 11:52:03 -0500 (EST)
From: Dan Scott <dan.scott@acm.org>
To: David Lloyd <lloy0076@rebel.net.au>
cc: Jesse Goerz <jgoerz@linuxfreemail.com>,  <discuss@linuxdoc.org>
Subject: Re: Copyrights, plagiarism and other nonsense
In-Reply-To: <3A207E13.C630EC10@rebel.net.au>
X-UID: 57

(I moved my answer to the new "discuss" forum.)

On Sun, 26 Nov 2000, David Lloyd wrote:

> Jesse!
> > 1.  All the documents must be in a single format which is easily convertible
> > to many others.  If the author does not wish to write in this format then a
> > "maintainer" should be appointed to convert the document from the author's
> > chosen format to the LDP format.
> That is what is supposed to happen.
> > 2.  If the author is not willing to publish under the LDP's copyright they
> > can publish elsewhere.  If necessary, develop several licenses which allow
> > differing levels of "protection."
> >
> > If the LDP does not protect itself by requiring the authors to use it's
> > copyright then it will eventually be a collection of untouchable, out of date
> > documents.  If authors feel these copyrights are to loose then perhaps said
> > authors should reexamine their intentions for publishing to the LDP and
> > consider publishing elsewhere.
> >
> > Yes.  It is that simple.
> I can only say - and very laconically - that I agree. It is really
> simple isn't it?

Except, of course, that it isn't that simple, because copyright and
licenses are two different and complementary things. The way I read
Jesse's proposal, all documents would have to be published under the LDP's
copyright. I'm not the most knowledgeable person on the subject, but I
believe that we can issue a single document that is copyrighted by the
author, but distributed with a license that allows others to redistribute
/ modify / assume maintenance of the document if it falls into disrepair.
I think the normal thing to do in this case is to make the copyrights
cumulative, no? So we would have "Original document copyright <author>
<date>, modifications and extensions copyright <author2> <date2>", right?

Of course, I am biased, since the copyright to "my" DB2-HOWTO is actually
held by IBM, while the DB2-HOWTO itself is licensed under the GPL.
Clearly, IBM benefits from this relationship with the LDP: they get to
provide up-to-date information about one of their products for Linux in
the de facto collection of Linux documentation. What does the LDP get?
Well, the right to use the DB2-HOWTO as the basis for an Oracle HOW-TO (if
a couple of excellent ones didn't already exist), other database HOWTOs,
or really any HOWTO that focuses on complex installation information; I
think the Docbook markup is an acceptable example for new authors; and
(last and definitely least) the LDP may get some small benefit from my
personal participation in activities like converting HTML-based docs to
Docbook, or fixing up little Docbook formatting glitches...

Most importantly, though, the Linux user interested in installing DB2 on
Linux benefits from finding the docs they need in the location they expect
to find authoritative information. And if for some reason I stop
maintaining the DB2-HOWTO, and don't pass the mantle on to someone else at
IBM, and inexplicably go incommunicado, the LDP has the right to keep on
distributing the DB2-HOWTO and let some other interested party become the
maintainer to ensure that the doc remains up to date. All that, without
the original copyright belonging to the LDP, but enabled by licensing the

Now, if you proposed that all submitted documents must be licensed using
one of the licenses accepted by the LDP, I would fully agree. And I think
that's the position of the LDP in general. It's just that the category of
licenses acceptable to the LDP is the subject of continuing, and somewhat
circular, debate.


> DL

Dan Scott,
Friend of the abnormal.

----- End forwarded message -----

Dan Scott,
Friend of the abnormal.

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