Author Topic: Open source code with absent author and no stated license - what would you do?  (Read 2612 times)

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Offline cdev

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Yes yes. And suddenly everyone is becoming a specialized copyright lawyer.  :)
If you read everything I wrote, you'll see that I was being a bit more nuanced, then, than the part you just quoted.
One doesn’t have to be a lawyer, to know and recognize often repeated misconceptions. You know, I am neither an astrophysicist nor a geologist, but I could say that claims about Earth being flat are wrong.

- If you, as an author, share some work on a platform such as github which targets open source software, and you want to hold your copyright on it, and you leave it with no mention an no means to identify or contact you, you're an idiot. It's like leaving your front door open with a big sign "come in", and expect nothing bad will happen to your house.
Where you host your code doesn’t void your rights. Neither does “being idiot”, even assuming “being idiot” is a concept recognized by your local law. You don’t need to offer signing any particular contract to make your work protected, even if you show your work to others. A copyrightable work is protected just because it exists. No further conditions.

Publication on GitHub might imply anyone can see the code without obtaining a license, but the question is not about seeing it. It’s about creation of derived works.

Open source and copyrights are for a large part incompatible. That's likely to trigger huge debates, but all in all, the whole spirit of open source that I've gathered and understood goes against the idea of copyright. So as related to the above, sharing something copyrighted on some open-source platform is sort of mind-boggling. I'm sure many will find no issue with that though. Who cares about consistency, right?
Yes, they are very incompatible. Yet the law still holds, even if someone doesn’t like it.

As I explicitely mentioned, the person publishing some work on github may not be the author nor have any explicit authorization of the author to share it (unless it's explicitely open-source licensed, in which case the license SHOULD come with the work.) In that case, that basically means the person behind the github (or similar) account stole the work. Also as I said, it's unfortunately extremely frequent on those websites. There's a lot of stolen work with no means of knowing who ever did it.
It may be, which possibility has included in my response, but that doesn’t address OP’s problem in any way. They still need to obtain permission from the copyright holder. Also note that the publisher may be the author, but not the copyright holder.

- Which, as I also mentioned, makes using any such project, unless it's one of the well known open-source projects with no ambiguity, basically impossible for any commercial application, because you just can't know who owns it. There is a significant amount of projects in the same case as the OP's, but even when there's an explicit license, it's impossible to know whether it's legit or just stolen copyrighted work with an added license that the true author never intended to add or even knows about. A can of worms. So of course github doesn't want to be held responsible. It's almost intractable.
You can never be sure, no matter where you obtain your dependencies at. What matters is how well you can protect yourself in the case of a fuckup.  If you can prove that you were yourself a victim of a scam, it is a whole different story than ignoring copyright altogether. Which is why I mentioned finding someone, whose presence in the chain covers OP’s ass up.

And with all that said, if again this is for pure personal use, wow. Are some of you serious for fretting? If you're really in doubt, just don't share your derived work until you know for sure where the original one was from and what kind of license it has. Keep it to yourself. Nobody gets hurt.
Unless your jurisdiction has provisions in criminal law against using unauthorized software. Of course someone may be in a position where chances of discovery are very low, but do you think OP would ask how to do that legally, if that was their goal?


wow, some folks must spend all their time thinking about this stufff. wow.
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Offline golden_labels

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wow, some folks must spend all their time thinking about this stufff. wow.
You have some problem? Or perhaps have anything of value to say?

Discussion fora exist for, surprisingly, discussion. If you find weird that people use them for the intended purpose or try to help others, you are free to not participate. Similarly, if you find the act of thinking something worth of ridicule, you may be in a wrong place.



« Last Edit: April 29, 2022, 03:25:24 pm by golden_labels »
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Offline cdev

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wow, some folks must spend all their time thinking about this stufff. wow.
You have some problem? Or perhaps have anything of value to say?

Discussion fora exist for, surprisingly, discussion. If you find weird that people use them for the intended purpose or try to help others, you are free to not participate. Similarly, if you find the act of thinking something worth of ridicule, you may be in a wrong place.


I just find it interesting, that as I said, As I found it strange that the British Empire considered so many of those born in Kenya to have become squatters in their own land.
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Offline rstofer

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Algorithms can't be copyrighted but implementations can.  At least in the US...

So, rip the algorithms and rewrite the code.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2022, 11:55:03 pm by rstofer »
 

Offline AlfBaz

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Allow me to be Ralph Wiggum for a moment...

So you build and release a product containing code to carry out its intended function.

Regardless being able to protect the code from being read within the device, even if you could it would be a binary blob, at what point do you have to provide to others source code?

If the device has closed source code and some entity suspects copyright infringements is there some legal mechanism that forces the designer to provide source code for scrutiny?

I ask because I have always found it strange on the insistence of code source stipulating that copyright notices in comments must remain and should not be used without prior consent etc

Is this simply a case of not being a thief and being honest about it and if you were how easy would it be to be found out?
 

Offline bsdphk

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If the device has closed source code and some entity suspects copyright infringements is there some legal mechanism that forces the designer to provide source code for scrutiny?

A court-order, issued during the discovery-phase would do that.

What evidence you would need to get to that point depends on pretty much anything.
 

Offline cdev

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Allow me to be Ralph Wiggum for a moment...

So you build and release a product containing code to carry out its intended function.

Regardless being able to protect the code from being read within the device, even if you could it would be a binary blob, at what point do you have to provide to others source code?

If the device has closed source code and some entity suspects copyright infringements is there some legal mechanism that forces the designer to provide source code for scrutiny?

I ask because I have always found it strange on the insistence of code source stipulating that copyright notices in comments must remain and should not be used without prior consent etc

Is this simply a case of not being a thief and being honest about it and if you were how easy would it be to be found out?
The US Government wrote a demand for source code into its contracts.. Way back in the 90s. with DFARS.. Because they had been burned too many times.. I saw some of these source code gold CDs.

Thats where open source originated from. After being burned quite a few times, the USG started writing this into contracts. So that all computer relaed products they buy included a gold CD with SRC. I think this has now changed in that now the US is demanding that nobody should be required to provide source...  At least we've been proposing that in the WTO proposals we are now making. Corporate lobbyists for big Indian staffing companies are demanding this. They say that requiring source would break the deal we made with them which the WTO is part of.  They seem to be tryijng to patent certain business processes.. which they claim to have invented.. And demand the "right" to create a proprietary software ecosystem. Obfuscate everything, And lock people in.   They really see FOSS as a threat to their (IMHO elitist) business model. Its too egalitarian.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2022, 05:54:19 pm by cdev »
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Offline Cerebus

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The US Government wrote a demand for source code into its contracts.. Way back in the 90s. with DFARS.. Because they had been burned too many times.. I saw some of these source code gold CDs.

Thats where open source originated from.

Utter rubbish. Open source was alive and well long before then. If you want to cite an origin, a much more likely proximal origin would be the source tapes that circulated among members of various user groups in the 1970s, including the IBM user group and DECUS to name but two.
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Offline bsdphk

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Thats where open source originated from.

Ehh no ?

Open Source originated with computers, because the first generation of programmers were smart enough to recognize that their job was hard enough with the source code, and impossible without.

Academia has of course always been open source, you get no publication credit for things you dont publish.

Throughout the 1960'ies, Open Source was the norm, also in commercial settings.  You might not get the source in machine readable form, you might get it on actual printouts, or you might get microfiche (IBM!) but you (could) get the source if you wanted it.

Closed source was very much a phenomena which came in and grew with the microprocessor in commercial environments, very much exemplified by Bill Gates' famous rant.

(Looking through the thread I see a lot of other crap you have been spewing, but I wont address that, I'll merely note that you seem to have very little clue about things you very confidentely pontificate on.)
 

Offline cdev

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i'll try to moderate pontifications, as your experience is more extensive than my own! And predates it.

:) Hopefully I am wrong as to these forces I describe as against open software. If that is the case, I wouldn't mind that one bit. Crossing my fingers..

The WTO since the beginning oif 1995 has controlled "Goods" and "Services" (around 80% of the global economy) seems to see open licensing as a trade barrier, and therefore prohibited by treaties.

Kind of like they seem to see any regulations like wage and hour laws, and labor standards .Framing such laws as speed bumps on the highway of trade. TRIPS and TRIMS regulate the new "IP" landscape. Not the Berne Convention, these days. (Or so I am told)  Patents, such as patents on drugs.. were a benefit to being in it. If you are a country and you want to trade, you must accept their rules.. in order to become a WTO member.. first. So this meant that a great many poor people would die. Since they didnt have that money.

What are the implications of that? Well one was the acceptance of the drug IP landscape.. a story laid out in the award winning 2013 film Fire in the Blood..  These laws made the manufacture of patented drugs incredibly profitable for the "owners" of these patents, even though they cost literally pennies to make, they cost tens of thousands in most of the world. Buy ir die, they seemed to be sayiing. Its now said that COVID-19 represents a once in a lifetime, Business opportunity.

They are trying to patent natural substances that should be unpatentable because they have shown promise in improviong the body's resistance to certain viruses. Because vaccines gradually offer less protection to evolving pathogens..And the SIRT system evolved to fight them. They claim a right to patent it. Buy or die.

Since Jan 1, 1995 Science doesn't belong to the Earths people. Irt belongs to the IP owning corporations! There is no such thing, legally, it seems, as a gift to everybody. At least that seems to be the officials position. That its holding the making of money back. Thats what scares me. The taking of science away from we the people. If you get better, you have to pay.  Pay to live?  Thats what we are heading towards with the Market spiral pricing of drugs.

Wheredoes FOSS stand without anybody standing up for it showing how many millions in sales that it has?
« Last Edit: April 30, 2022, 09:15:55 pm by cdev »
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