jnc at mercury.lcs.mit.edu
Mon Mar 13 06:58:30 CDT 2017
> From: Fred Cisin
> be aware that legal advice here is often tainted by our own interests,
> hence the fiction of "abandonware".
Speak for yourself; my comments below are the legal position as best I know
it, and not influenced in any direction.
Of course, as are most people here, I am not a lawyer (although I've spent
enough money on Intellectual Property lawyers over the years to send myself
to law school, had I had the time, so I now know a little bit about the
subject :-), and my perception is that the lack of knowledge on all our parts
implicit in that is a far larger risk than any bias.
> From: Warner Losh
> Resell: sure. The copyright interest of the seller is extinguished when
> you purchase them
I don't think that's correct: any copyright rights held by any party are
generally not, AFAIK, modified by sale of the material from a second party
(i.e. not a rights holder), to a third (you).
But that's immaterial, as long as one is only selling a copy which one
purchased. As long as that copy was itself not produced in violation of a
copyright, transfer to a fourth party (whoever you sell it to) is entirely
legal. (Just like selling used books - which generally are in copyright - is
legal.) You are (I'm pretty certain) not in any danger on copyright grounds,
as long as you don't make any copies yourself. (What the situation is, if that
copy _was_ produced in violation of a copyright, I am not sure of.)
Restricted rights (such as a duty not to pass the material along) are
probably not an issue, as that is entirely a civil contract between the
issuer and the second party (above) who purchased them. If that party elects
to sell the items _without_ making a second civil contract with the third
party (you), those restrictions would not apply. For the second party's
violation, the only recourse of the first party would be to sue the second
party. Since the third party doesn't have a contract with anyone, there are
no grounds for any claim against them.
If there are trade secrets involved, I'm not 100% sure of the situation,
since there are some protections for trade secrets in the law; but those
mostly apply to deliberate theft or espionage. My suspicion is that if a
third party gains access to trade secrets through negligence on the part of
the second party - i.e. the second party giving/selling material containing
trade secrets to a third party - the third party is clear to do what they
want with the information. But maybe not, I just don't know enough about
protection of trade secrets.
The final area to be considered is theft. If the party from whom the documents
were obtained did not rightfully own them (e.g. if they technically still
belong to the first party, and they were merely on loan to the second party),
then the third party (you) can't own them either, and so you (legally) can't
Having said all that, it would probably cost more to ascertain their exact
status (were they sold or loaned, etc) than they are worth (unless they
are worth a goodly amount). But I also suspect that the rights holder(s)
probably no longer care - but that's just a guess.
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