[clug] sec: unclassified - Samba Team, on SCO and sweet irony

Pearl Louis pearl.louis at anu.edu.au
Thu Aug 21 18:46:11 EST 2003

On Thu, 21 Aug 2003 03:54 pm, Mark Harrison wrote:
> On Thu, 2003-08-21 at 15:07, Michael Still wrote:
> > > If the GPL is invalid, then there is effectively no license attached to
> > > Samba, so SCO could do what they like with it.
> >
> > No, try again. If the license is invalid on Samba (which it almost
> > certainly is not), then copyright law still applies. Samba's copyright is
> > registered in the US, and the Samba team will still own it. They'll just
> > have to find a new license.
> I thought it was the other way. That is, until the copyright owner
> initiates a new license, then the work is licensed under the terms of
> the GPL. The GPL contains no terms (becuase it is invalid), so there is
> effectively no license.

No, as far as I know about the law, everything is *implicitly* copyrighted.  
Hence all those statements on the web about how just because there isn't a 
copyright notice doesn't mean it isn't copyrighted and therefore you can't 
just (legally) take someone's artwork and use it on your own site, even if 
they don't have a little C next to the picture.  If something is placed in 
the public domain, the copyright holder has to *explicitly* do so (unless the 
copyright period expires).  Hence some of the opposition against extended 
copyrights in the US and Europe is that a lot of the work from say the 20s 
and 30s, of whom there is no identifable living copyright holder eg. they've 
been dead for 50 years, no heirs cannot say be published online in the 
Gutenberg Project because they are still assumed to be covered under 
copyright as the copyright holder did not explicitly put them in the public 
domain and the copyright period has not yet expired.  Hence one of the moves 
is the modify copyright law so that after a period of time, the copyright 
holder has to explicitly say he/she/it wants to keep the copyright, otherwise 
it will go into the public domain.

One thing about the GPL is that it gives users rights which they normally 
would not have.  These rights are given to them by the copyright holders. If 
the GPL is invalid, then everything automatically goes back to the default 
copyright status (you can't just "lose" your copyright like that) and all 
users will have to renegotiate a new license with the copyright holders.  
Until they do so, they have no agreement with the copyright holders and 
therefore they have no right to do anything with the code.  Say for example 
if an author signs a contract with a publisher giving them certain rights 
over his/her work and they have a dispute and the contract is found to be 
invalid, of course this doesn't mean that the contract has no terms and 
therefore the publisher can continue churning out copies.  Which is 
effectively what you are suggesting.


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