Is Onlisp public domain?

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Moop

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Jul 8, 2003, 3:00:14 PM7/8/03
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Is it?

Shawn

Christopher Browne

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Jul 8, 2003, 4:53:17 PM7/8/03
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In the last exciting episode, Moop <mo...@moop.moop> wrote:
> Is it?

What do you think "Onlisp" is?

If you're thinking of Paul Graham's book, _On Lisp_, then the answer
is "of course not."

Paul Graham holds copyright, and unlike the average author, he is
quite wealthy and can afford to pay lawyers to go after someone that
might infringe on it.
--
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Kent M Pitman

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Jul 8, 2003, 4:54:52 PM7/8/03
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Moop <mo...@moop.moop> writes:

> Is it?

I doubt it.

To put something in the public domain requires a notice not dissimilar
to a copyright notice. The only other way to get to the public domain
is to copyright the document (which, incidentally, is the default
condition of a document having no notice--that is, copyright
"attaches" when a work is "fixed in a medium" -- it does not require
registration or notice) and then wait MANY years for the document to
fall out of copyright.

The way to be sure about a particular document would be to contact its
author.

Shawn Betts

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Jul 8, 2003, 5:47:16 PM7/8/03
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So then Lytha Ayth who created an Onlisp and SICP texinfo conversion

http://t2100cdt.kippona.net/linux/lisp/

shouldn't have released them publicly. He could be in deep doo-doo too.

So then the question is: What if I write a program that translates
LaTeX to HTML and happens to work PERFECTLY for CLtL (for some bizaar
reason) and provide a README that says if you want to convert CLtL
then do blah blah blah. Would that be okay?

Or what about a diff? Could that be considered a derivative work?
Could a texinfo conversion be considered a derivative work?

What about a big hairy program that basically is just an elaborate
diff embedded in the form of a program. If I just distribute this
program then would it be okay?

I could concievably write a program that inserts texinfo code I've
written (copyright Shawn Betts) and only refers to text in CLtL as
character ranges in the document (replace the text from character
34555 to 34600 with "@c foo bar baz"). That should get around
distributing copyrighted material.

Thoughts?

Shawn

Wade Humeniuk

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Jul 8, 2003, 5:57:46 PM7/8/03
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> Thoughts?


What is with this? Its just plain rude and disrespectful to even try
to just get around things like this. Ask Paul Graham directly, if you
cannot get him by email, phone him or snail-mail him. Is this so hard to
understand? Is it so hard for a little respect to creep into people's lives?

Wade

Kent M Pitman

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Jul 8, 2003, 7:30:39 PM7/8/03
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Christopher Browne <cbbr...@acm.org> writes:

> In the last exciting episode, Moop <mo...@moop.moop> wrote:
> > Is it?
>
> What do you think "Onlisp" is?
>
> If you're thinking of Paul Graham's book, _On Lisp_, then the answer
> is "of course not."
>
> Paul Graham holds copyright, and unlike the average author, he is
> quite wealthy and can afford to pay lawyers to go after someone that
> might infringe on it.

Any work that is properly registered prior to the infringement is entitled
to both statutory damages AND recovery of lawyer's fees, so the cost of the
lawyers is usually irrelevant. I'm told that it's not hard to find someone
who will prosecute these things on contingency since the law specifically
asserts that fees are recoverable. So assuming that you can only infringe
on authors with not too much money is a bad plan.

I'd guess that formally published works are usually properly registered.

Kent M Pitman

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Jul 8, 2003, 7:43:40 PM7/8/03
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Shawn Betts <sab...@remove.this.part.sfu.ca> writes:

> So then the question is: What if I write a program that translates
> LaTeX to HTML and happens to work PERFECTLY for CLtL (for some bizaar
> reason) and provide a README that says if you want to convert CLtL
> then do blah blah blah. Would that be okay?

In general, Get a lawyer to be sure.

I don't know what the legal status of CLTL is nor why a LaTeX source
would be available to you. Just because one is available does not mean
permission is given to make other uses of it; then again, it hints that
there is a notice somewhere explaining what uses are allowed and not.

My understanding of copyright law says that making a translation of a
LaTeX document to HTML is "creating a derivative work" and requires
permission. Whether such permission has been given is not something
I know. I just wouldn't personally be distributing derivative works
without having verified this one way or another if I were you.

If you distribute a program whose purpose is to construct such a
translation, you might or might not be infringing. It might depend on
how easy/automatic you make it and how much intervention by someone else
is involved. But if permission is not given for you to do such conversion,
and if you're not culpable, you might be inviting others to infringe,
not realizing they should not be running your program.

> Or what about a diff?

Chuckle. CLTL2 is already a diff. Mostly.

> Could that be considered a derivative work?

Yes, but I don't know that it would.

FWIW, I believe there was a court case when someone broadcast info in
realtime saying when commercials were starting on TV so that you could
subscribe to the broadcast and cut out commercials. My recollection
is that the court held that the decision about where the commercial
breaks were was part of the copyrighted form of the broadcast.
Further, the court had at one time upheld (not sure if it's been since
overturned, since it seems to me to have anticompetitive effects) West
Law's claim that page and line breaks are part of its copyright on
published legal cases, which means that when you make or interpret
legal citations in some venues, you have to actually use West's
versions of court cases, or else you won't get the page and line
information right. No one else is allowed to use those same breaks...

> Could a texinfo conversion be considered a derivative work?

Yes, and it probably would. I don't see much ambiguity there.
But what do I know. I'm only a "language lawyer". ;)

> What about a big hairy program that basically is just an elaborate
> diff embedded in the form of a program. If I just distribute this
> program then would it be okay?

Ask your lawyer.



> I could concievably write a program that inserts texinfo code I've
> written (copyright Shawn Betts) and only refers to text in CLtL as
> character ranges in the document (replace the text from character
> 34555 to 34600 with "@c foo bar baz"). That should get around
> distributing copyrighted material.

This knowledge would appear to be copyrighted in the same sense as
the West Law case.

> Thoughts?

Don't try to be clever.
Contact the author.

Especially don't publish your scheming about how to get around
reasonable copyright restrictions since it allows anyone to cite
your public posting as evidence of your motives.

David Steuber

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Jul 8, 2003, 9:39:35 PM7/8/03
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Kent M Pitman <pit...@world.std.com> writes:

> Any work that is properly registered prior to the infringement is entitled
> to both statutory damages AND recovery of lawyer's fees, so the cost of the
> lawyers is usually irrelevant. I'm told that it's not hard to find someone
> who will prosecute these things on contingency since the law specifically
> asserts that fees are recoverable. So assuming that you can only infringe
> on authors with not too much money is a bad plan.
>
> I'd guess that formally published works are usually properly registered.

I was under the impression that with 1976 copyright law, you didn't
have to register anything. As a creator of a work, you would
implicitly hold copyright until fifty years after your death.

Mind you, I haven't taken the time to read all of Title 17.

Copyright law questions might want to be asked elsewhere. I imagine
that when it comes to works that are available on the Internet, things
get really complex as geopolitical boundries are crossed.

--
One Editor to rule them all. One Editor to find them,
One Editor to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.

(do ((a 1 b) (b 1 (+ a b))) (nil a) (print a))

David Steuber

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Jul 8, 2003, 9:46:08 PM7/8/03
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Shawn Betts <sab...@remove.this.part.sfu.ca> writes:

> So then the question is: What if I write a program that translates
> LaTeX to HTML and happens to work PERFECTLY for CLtL (for some bizaar
> reason) and provide a README that says if you want to convert CLtL
> then do blah blah blah. Would that be okay?

Read the ditribution license of the original document to find out what
you are allowed to do with it. If unclear, contact the author.

Transforming from LaTeX to HTML is simply transforming the format. It
is not a dirived work. It is the work. The same applies to your
other schemes.

Joseph Oswald

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Jul 8, 2003, 9:49:32 PM7/8/03
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Moop <mo...@moop.moop> wrote in message news:<87n0fog...@foo.foo>...
> Is it?

Almost certainly not. My copy is (c) 1994 by Prentice-Hall. This
copyright has been transferred to Paul Graham, according to his web
site, and he has chosen to make a computer-readable copy available for
free, but I can't find any clear indication that he has allowed it to
pass into the public domain.

Why don't you write an e-mail to Paul, and ask him for permission to
do whatever it is you wish to do?

Kevin Rosenberg

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Jul 8, 2003, 11:43:53 PM7/8/03
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In article <e86bd0ec.03070...@posting.google.com>, Joseph Oswald wrote:
> Why don't you write an e-mail to Paul, and ask him for permission to
> do whatever it is you wish to do?

Paul replied rapidly and graciously when I sent him e-mail asking
permission to create a derivative work (a Debian package) of OnLisp
and to distribute that derivation.

--
Kevin Rosenberg
ke...@rosenberg.net

Kent M Pitman

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Jul 9, 2003, 12:02:51 AM7/9/03
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David Steuber <david....@verizon.net> writes:

> Kent M Pitman <pit...@world.std.com> writes:
>
> > Any work that is properly registered prior to the infringement is entitled
> > to both statutory damages AND recovery of lawyer's fees, so the cost of the
> > lawyers is usually irrelevant. I'm told that it's not hard to find someone
> > who will prosecute these things on contingency since the law specifically
> > asserts that fees are recoverable. So assuming that you can only infringe
> > on authors with not too much money is a bad plan.
> >
> > I'd guess that formally published works are usually properly registered.
>
> I was under the impression that with 1976 copyright law, you didn't
> have to register anything. As a creator of a work, you would
> implicitly hold copyright until fifty years after your death.

If you are on file with the copyright office, you can claim statutory
damages. That is, there is a statute-defined amount (which is large)
that you can simply claim without showing actual damages. You can also
recover lawyer's fees. If you are not on file with the copyright office,
you still have a copyright but you may only be able to get a cease and
desist order + actual damages and you probably won't get lawyer's fees.
Or so I understand.

> Mind you, I haven't taken the time to read all of Title 17.

Heh. It's very approachable, btw. Compared to many topics.

I also recommend the Gilbert series of audio study tapes for law school
final exams. I found the tapes on Copyright and Contracts useful for me
in my work. The Evidence and Criminal Procedure ones are great prep for
really appreciating Perry Mason.

> Copyright law questions might want to be asked elsewhere. I imagine
> that when it comes to works that are available on the Internet, things
> get really complex as geopolitical boundries are crossed.

For sure, although there is, by treaty, a lot of commonality, too.

Then again, if you're doing something that can be abused in a multinational
setting, expect someont to arrange for something to happen that will
result in you being sued under the least favorable set of laws... So
whatever you learn, just keep chanting "it's at least this bad, maybe worse".

Shawn Betts

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Jul 9, 2003, 12:07:24 AM7/9/03
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josepho...@hotmail.com (Joseph Oswald) writes:

> Why don't you write an e-mail to Paul, and ask him for permission to
> do whatever it is you wish to do?

I have. He asked me what Texinfo is :). I haven't received anything
after that.

Shawn

Christopher Browne

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Jul 9, 2003, 1:02:20 AM7/9/03
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Quoth David Steuber <david....@verizon.net>:

> Kent M Pitman <pit...@world.std.com> writes:
>
>> Any work that is properly registered prior to the infringement is
>> entitled to both statutory damages AND recovery of lawyer's fees,
>> so the cost of the lawyers is usually irrelevant. I'm told that
>> it's not hard to find someone who will prosecute these things on
>> contingency since the law specifically asserts that fees are
>> recoverable. So assuming that you can only infringe on authors
>> with not too much money is a bad plan.
>>
>> I'd guess that formally published works are usually properly
>> registered.
>
> I was under the impression that with 1976 copyright law, you didn't
> have to register anything. As a creator of a work, you would
> implicitly hold copyright until fifty years after your death.

You may not HAVE to register anything, but if you do so, it is likely
to be easier to collect damages, as the registration represents an
official document that is easy to wave at the judge as evidence if you
go to court. The copyright registration is a nice piece of
third-party evidence that you claimed copyright of the work on a
particular date.

Furthermore, the registration may, in and of itself, add additional
statutory damages.

If you're merely writing a letter to send to a magazine for the
"Letters to the Editor," that's hardly likely to be worth registering.
If you're publishing a book, on the other hand, there may be
substantial benefits to doing so...
--
"aa454","@","freenet.carleton.ca"
http://cbbrowne.com/info/advocacy.html
"The Amiga is proof that if you build a better mousetrap, the rats
will gang up on you." -- Bill Roberts bill.r...@ensco.com

Luke J Crook

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Jul 9, 2003, 2:56:51 AM7/9/03
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"David Steuber" <david....@verizon.net> wrote in message
news:87vfucv...@verizon.net...

> Kent M Pitman <pit...@world.std.com> writes:
>
> I was under the impression that with 1976 copyright law, you didn't
> have to register anything. As a creator of a work, you would
> implicitly hold copyright until fifty years after your death.

In 1998 congress extended copyright to 70 years for works held by
individuals and 90 years for works held by corporations.

-Luke


Lars Brinkhoff

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Jul 9, 2003, 3:21:05 AM7/9/03
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How about the Common Lisp dpANS documents? I was under the impression
that they were released under public domainish terms, but now that I
look, I can't find any copyright notice.

Valery

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Jul 9, 2003, 3:55:59 AM7/9/03
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Christopher Browne <cbbr...@acm.org> wrote in message news:<befavt$4nlfv$1...@ID-125932.news.dfncis.de>...

> If you're thinking of Paul Graham's book, _On Lisp_, then the answer
> is "of course not."

is it in public domain or not:
http://www.paulgraham.com/onlisptext.html

?

Patrick O'Donnell

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Jul 9, 2003, 9:42:27 AM7/9/03
to
Shawn Betts <sab...@remove.this.part.sfu.ca> writes:

> So then the question is: What if I write a program that translates
> LaTeX to HTML and happens to work PERFECTLY for CLtL (for some bizaar
> reason) and provide a README that says if you want to convert CLtL
> then do blah blah blah. Would that be okay?

Sounds like "contributory infringement" to me. If a court decided so,
yes, you'd be liable.

You _might_ be able to argue that your program had "substantial
noninfringing uses". That's hard to prove, and hasn't been too
successful in court, lately. If your program worked perfectly for
CLtL and not so perfectly for other texts (which your users would
presumably have authorization to copy), your argument would be
unpersuasive.

Johan Kullstam

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Jul 9, 2003, 10:11:55 AM7/9/03
to
David Steuber <david....@verizon.net> writes:

> Kent M Pitman <pit...@world.std.com> writes:
>
> > Any work that is properly registered prior to the infringement is entitled
> > to both statutory damages AND recovery of lawyer's fees, so the cost of the
> > lawyers is usually irrelevant. I'm told that it's not hard to find someone
> > who will prosecute these things on contingency since the law specifically
> > asserts that fees are recoverable. So assuming that you can only infringe
> > on authors with not too much money is a bad plan.
> >
> > I'd guess that formally published works are usually properly registered.
>
> I was under the impression that with 1976 copyright law, you didn't
> have to register anything. As a creator of a work, you would
> implicitly hold copyright until fifty years after your death.

It's been extented to (i think) 75 years. In practice, as long as
Disney is around, anything from Steamboatwilly/MickeyMouse 1927? will
be protected in perpetuity since they'll keep lobbying/paying the
congress to extend copyrights.

> Mind you, I haven't taken the time to read all of Title 17.
>
> Copyright law questions might want to be asked elsewhere. I imagine
> that when it comes to works that are available on the Internet, things
> get really complex as geopolitical boundries are crossed.

Right. Copyright is purely an artificial construct of government --
where government does not legislate it and enforce it, it does not
exist. Middle eastern countries are known for weak or non-existant
enforcement of copyright. Hence depending on what legal system you
fall under, _on lisp_ may well be public domain.

--
Johan KULLSTAM <kulls...@comcast.net> sysengr

Christopher Browne

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Jul 9, 2003, 2:53:16 PM7/9/03
to

What is there about:

"With thanks to Alan Apt of Prentice Hall for giving me back the
copyright"

that tells you "this work has fallen into the public domain due to
copyright having expired"?

Of course it isn't in the public domain.

Paul Graham is still alive, therefore the book CANNOT be in the public
domain.

If you want it in the public domain, then you'll have to wait until 70
years (or so) after he dies.
--
"cbbrowne","@","cbbrowne.com"
http://www3.sympatico.ca/cbbrowne/wp.html
"If Ada became the hot, in-language you would see a lot more bad code
in Ada."
-- Thaddeus L. Olczyk <olc...@interaccess.com>, comp.lang.C++

Michael Feathers

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Jul 9, 2003, 3:52:57 PM7/9/03
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"Johan Kullstam" <kulls...@comcast.net> wrote in message
news:87llv73...@sysengr.res.ray.com...

> It's been extented to (i think) 75 years. In practice, as long as
> Disney is around, anything from Steamboatwilly/MickeyMouse 1927? will
> be protected in perpetuity since they'll keep lobbying/paying the
> congress to extend copyrights.

If you think copyrights are interesting, check out what has happened to
patents:

http://www.newyorker.com/talk/content/?030714ta_talk_surowiecki

Kent M Pitman

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Jul 9, 2003, 5:02:17 PM7/9/03
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Lars Brinkhoff <lars...@nocrew.org> writes:

You're right that there isn't a proper notice per se. Documents do
exist (but are not on display publicly) that would show that the legal
intent was to have placed them into the public domain, even though we
botched the final execution of that. A good intellectual property
lawyer would tell you that this means the legal status is messy, but
what that really means (I believe) is that those who paid for its
creation could (hypothetically) have grounds to make a claim that it
was encumbered in some way, that is, to assert that they have some
right of ownership. But since all of those parties at one time or
another signed into this system of contracts identifying that the
intent was to make a public domain document, I don't personally think
they would succeed.

Historically, the community has generally behaved as if they are
properly in the public domain, and I've never heard of any problem
resulting from that. But then, I don't purport to be omniscient.

A lot of the law is about intimidation. Who can intimidate who into
doing (or not doing) what. In this case, there is probably no one
with any potential standing who has any serious motivation to want to
intimidate anyone, so I think you're ok on that score.

But then, I'm not a lawyer. If you plan to make a decision that would
bring you into legal jeopardy (making or distributing a derivative work),
you really should consult a lawyer.

Kent M Pitman

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Jul 9, 2003, 5:04:27 PM7/9/03
to
Christopher Browne <cbbr...@acm.org> writes:

> Paul Graham is still alive, therefore the book CANNOT be in the public
> domain.
>
> If you want it in the public domain, then you'll have to wait until 70
> years (or so) after he dies.

I believe he can expressly transfer the document to the public domain
of his own accord prior to that time.

But I agree with you that there's no evidence here that he's done so.

Thaddeus L Olczyk

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Jul 9, 2003, 9:01:56 PM7/9/03
to
On 9 Jul 2003 18:53:16 GMT, Christopher Browne <cbbr...@acm.org>
wrote:

>Paul Graham is still alive, therefore the book CANNOT be in the public
>domain.

Doesn't matter whether the copyright holder is alive or dead.
--------------------------------------------------
Thaddeus L. Olczyk, PhD
Think twice, code once.

Christopher Browne

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Jul 9, 2003, 11:31:08 PM7/9/03
to
The world rejoiced as Thaddeus L Olczyk <olc...@interaccess.com> wrote:
> On 9 Jul 2003 18:53:16 GMT, Christopher Browne <cbbr...@acm.org>
> wrote:
>>Paul Graham is still alive, therefore the book CANNOT be in the
>>public domain.

> Doesn't matter whether the copyright holder is alive or dead.

Yes, it does. 75 years (+/-) after death, copyright expires.

But since Graham is still alive, copyright has _obviously_ not expired
yet. It's a demonstrable evidence that the work isn't "PD."
--
let name="cbbrowne" and tld="acm.org" in name ^ "@" ^ tld;;
http://www.ntlug.org/~cbbrowne/emacs.html
You should talk to the DOCTOR.

David Steuber

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Jul 10, 2003, 5:04:49 AM7/10/03
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Kevin Rosenberg <ke...@rosenberg.net> writes:

> In article <e86bd0ec.03070...@posting.google.com>, Joseph Oswald wrote:
> > Why don't you write an e-mail to Paul, and ask him for permission
> > to do whatever it is you wish to do?
>
> Paul replied rapidly and graciously when I sent him e-mail asking
> permission to create a derivative work (a Debian package) of OnLisp
> and to distribute that derivation.

I may have a copy of that as I run Debian/Unstable. I also have a deb
package that contains source from On Lisp (IIRC) as well as Norvig's
Paradigms book.

Debian is nice <-- gratuitous advocacy.

Jeff Massung

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Jul 10, 2003, 11:50:37 AM7/10/03
to
Christopher Browne <cbbr...@acm.org> wrote in news:beimls$5fodt$1@ID-
125932.news.dfncis.de:

>
> Yes, it does. 75 years (+/-) after death, copyright expires.

Sorry, (+/-) gave me a nice chuckle :)

--
Best regards,
Jeff mailto:j...@mfire.com
http://www.simforth.com

Michael Feathers

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Jul 10, 2003, 1:28:33 PM7/10/03
to

"Christopher Browne" <cbbr...@acm.org> wrote in message
news:beimls$5fodt$1...@ID-125932.news.dfncis.de...

> The world rejoiced as Thaddeus L Olczyk <olc...@interaccess.com> wrote:
> > On 9 Jul 2003 18:53:16 GMT, Christopher Browne <cbbr...@acm.org>
> > wrote:
> >>Paul Graham is still alive, therefore the book CANNOT be in the
> >>public domain.
>
> > Doesn't matter whether the copyright holder is alive or dead.
>
> Yes, it does. 75 years (+/-) after death, copyright expires.
>
> But since Graham is still alive, copyright has _obviously_ not expired
> yet. It's a demonstrable evidence that the work isn't "PD."

Well, life plus 75 years sounds more like the public range of the function
rather than the public domain.

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