[linux-audio-user] [OT] Copyrights [was: Re: Behringer [was: Re: RME is no more]]

Joe Hartley jh at brainiac.com
Mon Nov 29 11:14:34 EST 2004

On Mon, 29 Nov 2004 14:52:05 +0100
Tim Orford <tim at orford.org> wrote:

> On Mon, Nov 29, 2004 at 06:49:21AM -0500, Joe Hartley wrote:
> > > copyright and hence the GPL is not concerned with ownership,
> > > it only deals with the right to copy.
> > > 
> > > ownership of the copyrighted "expression of an idea" is in practice
> > > not important at all. I have heard people claim that its public domain,
> > > though i havnt been able to confirm that.
> > 
> > This is the Darl McBride/SCO argument against the GPL.  It makes about
> > as much sense as the "Wookie defense" on South Park - "If Chewbacca
> > lives on Endor, you must acquit!"
> hi!
> sorry I didnt quite follow that. Would you mind elaborating?
> (guess i need to catch up on some more Southpark:-))

Sure :)  Chef hears a song that Cartman can't get out his head and Chef 
says that he wrote that song over twenty years ago. When Chef and the 
boys visit the record company, the record company says they are going 
to sue him. Capitalist Records hires Johnny Cochran, who uses the 
Chewbacca defense, the same defense that he used in the Simpson trial.

"Chewbacca is a wookie from the planet Kashyyyk. But Chewbacca lives on 
the planet Endor. Now think about that; that does not make sense. Why 
would a wookie, an 8 foot tall wookie, want to live on Endor with a 
bunch of two foot tall ewoks? That does not make sense! But more 
importantly, you have to ask yourself, what does that have to do with 
this case?' Nothing. Ladies and Gentlemen, it has nothing to do with 
this case. It does not make sense!"

In a similarly surrealistic move, Darl McBride wrote a letter which
was sent to all the members of the US congress, saying that the GPL
is unconstitutional because it deprives software companies from the
ability to make a profit from developing software.  I kid you not,
check out Darl's rant yourself: http://www.sco.com/copyright/

> just to be clear, i'm making an esoteric distinction between the
> ownership of a copyright (which can be bought and sold), and the
> ownership of the "expression of an idea" itself.

Hmmm, a very fine hair to split.  The "expression of an idea" can be
copyrighted, and if it is, then they become one and the same.  The
idea itself is theoretically not copyrightable, but is apparently 
patentable at this point in time.

One thing that Darl missed is that the GPL is a license, and while is
often referred to as a "copyleft," it is called that in a sort of
tongue-in-cheek manner, simply implying that licensing under the GPL
retains the owner's rights, but does not do so in a way that restricts
its use in the way copyrights are usually enforced by the owners.

Darl forgot or ignored the facts that
  1) The work can still be copyrighted and be released under the GPL
  2) The work can be released under multiple licenses by the owner
  3) No one is ever forced to use work released under the GPL

He's just mad that he thought he'd make a bundle selling GPL'ed software
for OpenServer and found that it doesn't really work like he'd hoped.

       Joe Hartley - UNIX/network Consultant - jh at brainiac.com
Without deviation from the norm, "progress" is not possible. - FZappa

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