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Old 05-29-2003, 03:26 AM   #1
Ntanel
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This is just out of curiousity, like most legal questions.

1. When someone has code and clearly states in a license that the code is to remain exclusive to its home site, even if that home site dies, does that mean that the code is to be lost to the public?

2. If this restricted code is modified and re-released on another site, does that make it legit to disobey the license?

3. Where does law end and preservation begin when it comes to code and dying sites?
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Old 05-29-2003, 04:40 AM   #2
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I'm certainly not the best person qualified to answer this, but recent events have generated a level of fascination with the whole issue, so I'll give it a shot:

1. In the absence of contravening permission from the author of the code, it would be safe to assume that once the site perishes, the code perishes with it. The license governs what rights the author gives you, and if they went out of their way to specify you can't redistribute it, then that pretty much ends it. They don't NEED to specify that, but if they have, they've removed all possible doubt.

2. Not as sure on this one, but my gut ( which is usually a reliable resource ) says that you should err on the side of caution and be sure you have permission to distribute derived versions of any such code.

3. Technically, from what I last read, 75 years after the death of the author. After that it becomes public domain. So for all practical purposes, the law doesn't end.
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Old 05-29-2003, 07:23 AM   #3
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1. When someone has code and clearly states in a license that the code is to remain exclusive to its home site, even if that home site dies, does that mean that the code is to be lost to the public?
You'd need to be more specific about the wording, but if it says it can only be distributed from their site then the answer is "yes". Worse still, it means that if anyone installs that snippets, they no longer have the right to distribute their mud, either.

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2. If this restricted code is modified and re-released on another site, does that make it legit to disobey the license?
No - a derivative must follow the parent license. For example, if you create a Diku derivative you MUST still have the Diku authors listed in the credits - you cannot decide to drop that clause just because you've created a derivative. You can be more restrictive (eg, require that your own credits are added as well) but you cannot take away clauses.

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3. Where does law end and preservation begin when it comes to code and dying sites?
As Samson pointed out, it's generally 75 years after the death of the copyright holder - although for anonymous works, I believe it's 100 years after the date of publication. Either way, you're unlikely to be able to use the work within your own lifetime.
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Old 05-29-2003, 03:41 PM   #4
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Once upon a time I did some research into Tolkien works and found that an heir can reregister the copyright within a certain amount of years (7 I believe) to transfer it. JRR's son now owns the copyright in this case.
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Old 05-29-2003, 07:07 PM   #5
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As Samson pointed out, it's generally 75 years after the death of the copyright holder - although for anonymous works, I believe it's 100 years after the date of publication. Either way, you're unlikely to be able to use the work within your own lifetime.
I really should have checked before posting, particularly when I'd just dragged myself out of bed. It's actually 70 years after the death of the author for post 1978 works. For anonymous, pseudonymous, or work made for hire, it's 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation, whichever expires first.

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Once upon a time I did some research into Tolkien works and found that an heir can reregister the copyright within a certain amount of years (7 I believe) to transfer it. JRR's son now owns the copyright in this case.
Only works created prior to 1st January 1978 are subject to renewal registration. Furthermore, copyright is a personal property right, and is subject to the various (country specific) laws and regulations that govern ownership, inheritance, transfer of personal property, etc.
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Old 06-10-2003, 11:29 AM   #6
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I've always been curious about something along the same lines. I did this, though I did give credit to the original author in my own code. I looked at a snippet to add mail support to a MUD - the ability to send mail to players. I didn't copy the code via cut and paste or line by line. I based my code off of what I had read. Parts look nearly identical, but that's because there's no other easy way to do it.

Thus... if I hadn't felt like being respectful, would I have been breaking any copyrights? Say they didn't want it redistributed, and I didn't add any mention of them in my code. Rather I wrote it based on the usage I saw in their code... where would this fall?

Or how about ideas? If I see a MUD do something, though I never see the code and I make my MUD do it, is there copyright issues there?

-- X
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Old 06-11-2003, 10:34 AM   #7
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Do you know that the moon has been divided up and sold already? You have to pay to acquire land on the moon. I daresay that you've infringed on something somewhere, but its just a function to send email from the mud, I wouldn't be expecting your door beaten down anytime soon. ;-) You want to see idea theft, just look at the first 20 muds on the topmudsite ranking list.. there's plenty in there, no names mind you. I can certaintly appreciate your nobleness, having been victim to a bit of that myself.
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Old 06-11-2003, 11:05 AM   #8
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Well actually this isn't even an issue for me personally anymore. The previous code didn't handle it well and caused unneeded lag for the MUD. I'm rewriting it from scratch so that it can handle all this better.

My question still stands though. At what point does it become a violation? If I sat down and wrote the entire DikuMUD codebase myself, but used the original code as a guideline, I'd certainly assume that I'd be responsible for the license the same as if I'd untar'd it and used it.

Though, doesn't this sort of thing happen every day? I mean this is how we have Windows and MSDOS. If not using the actual code, then at the very least the ideas.
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