Re: Public Domain and GPL


Thread Starter

Curt Wuollet

Hi All

Happy Thanksgiving to those in the US and let us share our thanks with the rest of the world. I have a little time as these are holidays here and I'm trying to catch up. Things are moving too
fast for the time I have available but that's a good thing :^). I got this message from Mario and a way to support many fieldbusses and we now have to put our heads together and think before we proceed. We had some discussion earlier about how we handle code we don't own and code that uses protocols we don't own and all the legal ramifications. The primary object here is to prevent anyone from killing the project with a legal challange or cease and desist order. To this end I have been advocating that we keep any challangeable code outside the project proper
and insisting that what makes it into the code archive be explicitly GPL'd We now have an example of each of the most common (I think) problem areas.

First, Ron's code. I agree Mario, having any AB module and compatibility means we have arrived to a lot of people. I had a specific inquiry about using Linux instead of VB/MS to do a "real" automation project. The challange was that it take not much more time than doing it the other way. I offered to help in any way I could but, I haven't heard back and I assume it went the other way. Connectivity to AB was one issue. The legal
issue is not what's preventing us from using Ron's code. We just haven't had a pioneer who needs to do it and provides us with what functionality is needed and how exactly to package
it. Once people are using it, _then_ we have a potential legal problem. It was reverse engineered which has been held to be legal. That is little comfort as any legal challange would require that we back down as we have no structure or resources to address it. We need to structure things so that that would affect only that module and the rest of lplc can continue. That is the reason for a seperation.

Next the donated code that is not GPL'd. To make a long story short, the GPL cannot be rescinded, we can use GPL'd code with no worries. Copyrighted code that is not GPL'd (and any
work here has copyright protection) can not only be licensed or re-licensed, it affects any "derivitive works" of that code. Code that is in the public domain is supposedly without
restriction, but it has to be established that it is indeed in the public domain. To be sure, there should be a declaration of such by the copyright holder in the work. I am not a lawyer but that is my understanding. Wide, free publication without
copyright notice should be ok but???????.

In addition, we are global, I know very little about US law and essentially nothing about international law or law where you might be. This means we have to put our heads together and try to find a way to handle this so that a hostile party can do minimal damage to the project. The only way I can think of is to keep challangeable code out of the CVS and do our best not to deliberately break any laws. We will be crossing many lines and pushing many issues but I am counting on the fact that we are non-profit and operating in the public interest to get us the benefit of doubt or at least make it unrewarding to sue us.

Your comments are appreciated.


Mario de Sousa wrote:
> Hi Curt,
> I was going to email the following message to the list, but then I
> changed my mind. If you think it is OK, please forward it there,
> otherwise forward it to Ron Gage?
> Curt Wuollet wrote:
> >
> > Just a note guys
> >
> > While we really appreciate the interest and effort to support Linux
> > in automation, and I really hate to bring it up, public domain
> > and published without copyright are different legally from GPL'd.
> I assume this is why we have not yet used Ron's AB drivers. But I think
> we could have an AB linuxplc module, even without including his code
> into our archives. Just leave a pointer where interested parties can get
> his code? Or maybe develop it but keep it off our cvs server, and
> publish it elsewhere? I think this last option would probably be the
> best?
> An AB io module for the linuxplc would sure interest a lot of people...
> Ron, would you like to develop this io module, seeing you probably know
> your library best? Maybe publish the module together with your library,
> and therefore keep it out of our archives?
> Mario.
> --
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Mario J. R. de Sousa
> [email protected]
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

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