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Re: [ba-unrev-talk] Licensing of the unrevii email archives (wasre: Progress on...)

cdent@burningchrome.com wrote:
> On Sat, 20 Apr 2002, Paul Fernhout wrote:
> > This is fantastic and brave work! I hope you continue to elaborate this
> > and share the results under some specific free or open source license.
> >   http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/license-list.html
> >   http://www.opensource.org/licenses/
> > (I didn't see a license in parser.pl by the way -- just your copyright.)
> Thank you for the comments.    (01)

You're welcome.    (02)

> At the moment licensing on the code and documents created for the
> project is a bit in the air because I don't have a clear
> statement from the school about who owns what.     (03)

Yeah, this is a terribly sad state of affairs in academia today. I know
one college student whose university made him and classmates assign a
successful classroom project to the professor (implication being they
would otherwise fail) who then went on to sell it and split the money
with the university. I was around a university over a decade ago just
after a person left with some software they had written that they
created a successful company with, and the university essentially
decided that would never happen again (meaning not getting a cut) and to
an extent it never has (meaning innovation has become much more
difficult there -- increasing difficulty sharing code across projects,
faculty not publicly presenting work, students hiding ideas until they
leave, etc.). It's unfortunate that universities (even public ones) have
chosen to go down this path. I'd rather they chose as a resolution
saying the work was free for everyone. It lessens my support for them as
I see universities using public funds for their own private benefit (and
strangely enough they are supposedly doing this to increase support...)
I'd rather then just pay less taxes so I could develop more free stuff
on my own...    (04)

Fundamentally, there is an implicit widespread belief that ideas without
owners are worthless because no one will invest in their use without a
monopoly on them (e.g. no one would produce a drug out of patent --
wonder why you can buy aspirin?), which conflicts with the notion that
ideas without owners are the most valuable to the world because anyone
can use them at any time. Government law reflects this -- when seeing
that patents developed by universities and given to the government
weren't being licensed, instead of the U.S. government saying the
patents should be free to all, Congress decided (Bayh-Dole Act)
  http://www.crf.cornell.edu/bayh-dole.html [pro]
  http://www.law.duke.edu/pd/papers.html [con -- see Eisenberg paper]
that the universities should keep control of the patents to make money
from them.    (05)

All very sad -- and it is sad to see someone with noble aspirations such
as yourself caught in the middle of this. Well, I guess you are learning
some sort of lesson -- maybe not the one your university intended to
teach.    (06)

> My personal
> approach is to use the GPL or Artistic license, depending on my
> goals with the work. Here's probably not the place to join the
> GPL versus the world debate (it seems to be rolling some over in
> the ohs list) but suffice it to say that I'm versus the world.    (07)

The GPL is its own world? :-) There are a lot of licenses out there
incompatible with other licenses...    (08)

> > === an issue of email archive licensing ===
> [snip]
> > A major issue that has deterred me from publishing any work involving
> > the Bootstrap mailing list data has been a lack of clear license related
> > to using the email archive. While I myself applaud what you are doing,
> > it would nice to know with as much assurance as possible that releasing
> > such work publicly was on solid legal grounds (if you have not obtained
> > such assurances already from either Stanford or the Bootstrap
> > Institute).
> I had been waiting to see if we would hear from the CPC about
> this, but since we haven't I'll go ahead and mention that the
> archives were delivered to us in a variety of formats by Henry
> and Eugene, they are publicly available and IU's Human Subjects
> people gave us the green light. If this is not enough assurance I
> hope someone in "authority" will speak up and say as much so we
> can work out alternate arrangements.    (09)

Warez is publicly available too... And a Disney exec giving you a gratis
videotape of Fantasia doesn't mean they won't sue you for putting it on
the net.    (010)

Sorry, but while I think realistically you probably won't get dinged for
this, legally if BI or Stanford [the other owner under "permission to
use"] wanted to make an issue, you might be in hot water -- maybe your
university too. (But I'm not a lawyer, etc. and I am not privy to
whatever deals were made with BI etc.) In general, as I understand it,
organizations can reserve the right to enforce copyrights or patents at
a later time (unlike with trademarks which must be vigorously enforced).     (011)

Obviously, if BI made trouble for you over this they would have to be
loopy since you are doing with the archives exactly what should be done
with them -- although Stanford might be more likely to cry foul as they
sell educational materials and might consider that you were getting in
on their racket somehow and decreasing the value of their holdings.    (012)

You might have some sort of fair use defense given that the postings
were somewhat public -- but I don't know how far that would get you (for
a while the list was visible to subscribers only). Here's and
interesting article arguing that "fair use" appears to be a sometimes
useful defense in court more than a "right".
discussed at:
  http://slashdot.org/yro/02/03/31/2230239.shtml?tid=123    (013)

> I think it is worth having a discussion about these licensing
> issues, because they are certainly relevant for knowledge
> evolution.     (014)

Absolutely agreed.    (015)

> But you've now suggested that our position with the
> archives may be somewhat tenuous so I'm hesitant...    (016)

Sorry to scare you. You just stumbled into what for me has been a long
standing lack of clarity of licensing related to the OHS / Bootstrap
project which has affected my own level of participation (and I am
participating a bit more now because I think there is some leverage now
to resolve some of these issues given your work). Is BI for-profit or
non-profit? Are the results free or proprietary? And which parts will be
which? And to be fair, I'm sure these are questions BI wrestles with as
it thinks about its financial future, not out of any particular malice.
Doug has consistently stated he wants the results to be "open source"
and I believe that is where his heart is. Translating that into practice
has proven difficult for various reasons, including the dark side
(unlimited software patent infringement indemnification liability) of
"permission to use". However, whatever else I can say, this forum has
proven extremely educational and I have benefited greatly by looking at
all the various things people have discussed here and pointed to with
links here.    (017)

Since you're in the middle of it, I'd suggest working it through
formally if for no other reason than the educational experience in
copyright law and negotiating.
Peter P. Yim commented favorably on resolving the licensing issue, so he
might be a good person to keep up with on it or get strategy ideas from.
I'd be happy to talk about this privately or through this mailing list.    (018)

You can see an example of my previous comments, for example archived at:
Permission to use is here:
and Google archived here (can't get to bootstrap.org right now):    (019)

> Can we hear from the the CPC?     (020)

Absolutely would love to hear an official Bootstrap (Core Planning
Committee) or Stanford (the other owner under "permission to use")
position because then I might follow your brave lead (after "permission
to use" indemnification liability was resolved, which presumably you are
not bound by?) You and your colleagues have advanced the state of the
art in managing the Bootstrap mailing list archive -- I think you
deserve to be encouraged for that and your paths made clear and easy by
those in a position to do so.    (021)

-Paul Fernhout
Kurtz-Fernhout Software 
Developers of custom software and educational simulations
Creators of the Garden with Insight(TM) garden simulator
http://www.kurtz-fernhout.com    (022)