Ken Brown kenbrown at
Thu Oct 24 19:44:41 UTC 2002

Ok John...I give up.  You insist that you can own something 100% and
relinquish 100% control at the same time.  There is not a single legal
precedent for this anywhere.  So you and I will just have to disagree.  You
cannot surrender rights to modify and distribute  something you have a
copyright protected, and then turn around and expect all of its privileges.
I agree with Sujita, if I GPL my software called "kb-library" I would not be
surprised to expect someone to be selling it as their own with a name
change, etc.  I would expect it to be GPL of course, and maybe the author
will give me credit. But the hell with credit, the GPL gives an individual
the legal right to sell my idea as their own.  In the end, a court would
challenge my claim to "rights" for the product because my transaction will
not be able to meet any key thresholds of an author's demand for copyright
law protection.   Particularly when the license has such vague restrictions
for derivative works.


-----Original Message-----
From: John Cowan [mailto:jcowan at]
Sent: Thursday, October 24, 2002 3:01 PM
To: Ken Brown
Cc: John Cowan; Sujita Purushothaman; license-discuss at
Subject: Re: Copyright

Ken Brown scripsit:

> Ownership is control to me.  Courts would agree.  If you waive your
> ownership, you waive your control...vice versa.

No, you don't.  Ownership is the right to exercise control, not the
duty to do so.  If you waive control, you waive it.

> Copyright is control
> whether you like it or not.  Second, I cannot understand how you can
> the derivative works clause in the GPL to permissions and rights expected
> copyright enforcement courts in this country.

Copyright ownership means you have the right to allow or disallow certain
things.  The GPL allows certain things and disallows others.

> Lets say I write a code that disables the function of an F1 key.  Even
> though its an error, I distribute my code under the strict terms that say
> you cannot fix this problem.  I GPL the code.  The GPL says that owners
> make the modification.  Copyright or not, explain to me how I could
> forbid anyone from making the change?

You can't.  Either you distribute under the GPL or you don't (or you
some copies under the GPL and others not).

You are a child of the universe no less         John Cowan
than the trees and all other acyclic  
graphs; you have a right to be here.  
  --DeXiderata by Sean McGrath                  jcowan at

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