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Re: New HOWTO
<aside: this is a resend of something I sent to David Lawyer alone -- I
meant to send it to the list>
I'm just thinking (or not thinking ;-) ) out loud -- if an author cannot
be located after some reasonable efforts, and if his document is
unlicensed, could we modify his document but maintain his name as the
original author along with a sort of disclaimer statement explaining
that we tried the following means of locating <author> but could not
contact him, we would still like to find him, so if you know him or can
provide any hints we would appreciate it. In the meantime, we have
taken the liberty of updating his document, the current maintainer is
_______. I would then list everything we know about the author and what
steps we tried to locate him.
IANAL, but this would seem to demonstrate a good faith effort to find
the original author to seek his permission. And, if he had made his
document available to the LDP (or made it freely downloadable from any
other web source) it would seem to demonstrate that his intent is not to
sell his document for profit, rather his intent is to contribute to the
If we are polite about this, hopefully we would not offend the author if
he does turn up, and our good faith effort to find the original author
would seem to provide some sort of defense (or mitigating circumstance)
in a possible legal dispute.
Even if the author has died and his heirs show up wishing to assert
their rights to his copyright (because it's good for 70 years after his
death), I think our good faith efforts to find the author and the
"presumed intent" of the author in making the document available to the
LDP or freely downloadable from some web source would give us a defense
against any sort of claim of "malice aforethought" (if that helps us
IANAL IANAL IANAL
I suspect a lawyer would point out we could still be sued, and there are
lawyers that would take such a case, perhaps even on a contingency
basis. We can offer the remedy of immediately withdrawing the revised
document from distribution via our web site (and afterwards create a new
document to replace it, not based on the original). I don't think too
many people would force us into that position, or seek to obtain
monetary damages, especially if we are not making money.
Which leads me to this question: Is the LDP any sort of legal entity
(non-profit corporation)? If not, should we consider incorporating to
shield "members" from personal liability in a potential situation like
Hope this leads to productive discussion,
David Lawyer wrote:
> On Fri, Nov 17, 2000 at 09:42:44AM -0500, David Merrill wrote:
> > I just wrote to the author (Marcus Faure) to see if he plans on updating
> > it and maintaining it.
> > It is released under *no* license. Yep, no license or copyright
> > at all. What kind of legal standing does that give it? Is it in the
> > domain? Or, as I seem to recall, is it automatically copyrighted under
> > law even without a copyright statement, and therefore dead if we can't
> > contact him?
> Please read the LDP-License:
> LINUX DOCUMENTATION PROJECT LICENSE (LDPL)
> v2.0, 12 January 1998
> I. COPYRIGHT
> The copyright to each Linux Documentation Project (LDP) document is
> owned by its author or authors.
> II. LICENSE
> The following license terms apply to all LDP documents, unless otherwise
> stated in the document. .....
> This means that until we seemingly gave up on the LDP License, that
> any submission to us that didn't have a license was covered under the
> LDP license. Now an author could claim that they didn't know this rule
> but we could claim that:
> 1. They never asked us what the rule was.
> 2. Since they should know that we put our docs on the Internet, they
> are implicitly permitting distribution and copying of their document.
> The default of the LDP license was to allow modification. So in that
> case anyone is free to modify it. But the author could claim that
> they never agreed to that. If they implicitly agreed to allow copying
> and distribution but not modification, why didn't they say so?
> At any rate I think we all agree that any docs submitted to us from now
> on MUST have a License (or state that they are public domain).
> David Lawyer
> To UNSUBSCRIBE, email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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David Merrill wrote:
> From: "David Lawyer" <email@example.com>
> > On Fri, Nov 17, 2000 at 09:42:44AM -0500, David Merrill wrote:
> > > I just wrote to the author (Marcus Faure) to see if he plans on
> > > it and maintaining it.
> > >
> > > It is released under *no* license. Yep, no license or copyright
> > > at all. What kind of legal standing does that give it? Is it in the
> > > domain? Or, as I seem to recall, is it automatically copyrighted under
> > > law even without a copyright statement, and therefore dead if we can't
> > > contact him?
> > Please read the LDP-License:
> Thanks, David. I had missed that nuance of the LDPL.
> > At any rate I think we all agree that any docs submitted to us from now
> > on MUST have a License (or state that they are public domain).
> Absolutely. I almost always ask an author to select a free license for
> their HOWTO when I contact them, for whatever reason.
> David C. Merrill, Ph.D.
> Linux Documentation Project
> Collection Editor & Coordinator
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