MOO-cows Mailing List Archive


RE: anyone ever gotten xerox to clarify the MOO license before?

> For similar reasons, it is highly unlikely that the LambdaMOO wizards
> will ever step in and attempt to assert any clear position concerning
> LambdaCore; there's essentially no upside benefit from us doing so and
> considerable downside risk, given that no court has ever ruled on the
> copyright status of such an artifact (at least, not that I know of,
> and I have no incentive to spend money having a lawyer look into it).

For what it's worth, I myself have no intention of ever asserting any
intellectual-property rights for myself with regard to my own share of
LambdaCore.  By lines of code, I figure this share to be something on
the order of 10-30%, depending on how generous one wants to be.  Given
any determination that I have any such rights at all --- which will
almost certainly follow from the determination that anyone *else* has
such rights --- I'd have no objection in principle to signing them over
to any person/agency committed to keeping LambdaCore freely available.  

My own take on the matter is that this code has always been public
domain (in the naive sense of the term) and that it's been clear from
the beginning to everyone who contributed that it would be so.  (IMHO,
the Berne Convention was a REALLY STUPID idea, if well-intentioned; it's
really too bad that the US signed on to it, and we'll be dealing with
the fallout of that decision for years to come.)  Unfortunately, my
opinions have no force of law.  On the other hand, if I should happen to
be called to testify in a civil case arising from the use of LambdaCore,
and the *intended* status of LambdaCore is deemed to have any bearing on
the case, you may now have a pretty good idea of what I might say.

The main point:  If it ever comes to pass that someone gives you grief
for using LambdaCore, that someone is simply NOT going to be ME.

As for the other authors, I currently have no reason to believe that, of
those who made the major identifiable contributions, including both the
past and present LambdaMOO wizards and several others --- a group of
about 10-15 people, all told --- that there is anyone who isn't
similarly inclined.  (Again, this is MY OPINION; I CAN'T ACTUALLY SPEAK

Unfortunately, even assuming this is actually true and no one has been
turned to the Dark Side by the Emperor in the intervening years, it
still only accounts for about 95% of LambdaCore, and it's that last bit
that's the killer, copyrightwise.  Keep in mind that much of this code
dates from the period before we had mandatory registration at LambdaMOO,
so it's quite possible that for some of the (many) remaining authors we
don't even have a (5-year-out-of-date) email address.

On the bright side, I consider the possibility of some author of that
remaining 5% going to the extraordinary expense of suing over his 3
lines of $foo_utils:bar() to be extremely remote, if not quite as remote
as the possibility of your computer turning to powder or Xerox deciding
to attempt to turn a profit on the LambdaMOO server.  The fact that
we're on very murky legal ground cuts both ways here; yes, it makes it
very hard to clarify the true legal status of LambdaCore, but anyone
wanting to make a quick buck via the various forms of legal extortion
faces similar obstacles.

Roger Crew
(== Rog@LambdaMOO/JHM,,

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