To Al Kossow at bitsavers

Paul Koning paulkoning at
Sun Nov 15 13:01:49 CST 2015

> On Nov 15, 2015, at 12:00 PM, Johnny Billquist <bqt at Update.UU.SE> wrote:
>> ...
>> Personally?  I think the rightest way is to eliminiate the legal
>> fiction called "intellectual property", as a good-sounding experiment
>> that has failed.  It is not producing the effects it was put in place
>> to produce and it is producing a lot of other, ill, effects.
> Agree. I think the whole concept of intellectual property is weird. Calling some thought in your head a "property" have strange implications. If I say some words that makes you think of something, can I then make you violate my intellectual property? When if you thought of the same idea independently? How did you violate my intellectual property in that case?
> Weird...
> I think copyright law sortof makes more sense, and should be enough here.

There are a lot of diffent ways to approach copyright questions.

The first is to use only what is explicitly permitted.  This is what Wikipedia and do.  It is also what retrocomputing people who run public domain software (like CDC COS or IBM OS/360 of the right vintage) or open source software do, or those who obtain licenses, hobbyist or otherwise.

The second is to use what is readily available but stop when told to.  This is what google seems to do; it also seems to be the bitsavers approach.

A third is to claim that it's in the public domain if you can't find the owner, or even just because "it's on the Internet".  When I critiqued the "abandonware" approach, this is what I was referring to.  Note that there's a difference between "I know it's owned but I can't find the owner, I'll use it until asked to stop" (approach 2) and "I don't know the owner so I'll claim it doesn't have one" (approach 3).

Somewhat unrelated is the argument about whether there should be copyright.  If you disapprove of it, you're of course free to seek a Constitutional amendment (in the USA case) to abolish it.  But you would get objections from anyone who makes his living writing books, or newspapers, or magazine articles.  Also from a lot of people whose profession is the creation of software.  If you've ever published anything, unless you released it into the public domain, you've used copyright (intellectual property law).  That includes open source licenses, of course.


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