Elmord's Magic Valley

Software, lingüística e rock'n'roll. Sometimes in English.

Posts com a tag: copyright

Elmord looks at licenses: MPL 2.0

2019-04-30 15:30 -0300. Tags: comp, copyright, hel, fenius, in-english

In the previous post, I analyzed the LGPLv3 in the context of looking for a license for the Hel standard libraries. In this post, I'm going to analyze the Mozilla Public License 2.0, or MPL for short. The MPL is not as well known as other free software licenses, but it's an interesting license, so it's worth taking a look at it.

Wikipedia actually has a pretty good summary of the license, and Mozilla has an FAQ about it, but here we go.

[Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, etc.]

File-level copyleft

The most interesting aspect of the MPL is that it applies copyleft at the file level. Section 1 defines "Covered Software" as:

[…] Source Code Form to which the initial Contributor has attached the notice in Exhibit A, the Executable Form of such Source Code Form, and Modifications of such Source Code Form, in each case including portions thereof.

and "Larger Work" as:

[…] a work that combines Covered Software with other material, in a separate file or files, that is not Covered Software.

Section 3.3 allows distributing a Larger Work under terms of your choice, provided that the distribution of the Covered Software follow the requirements of the license.

In other words, the boundary between software covered by the MPL and other software is defined at the file level, and the license allows distributing a combination of MPL and non-MPL code under another license, provided that the MPL parts still remain under the MPL. Modified versions of the MPL-covered parts, if distributed, must be available in source-code form, but this requirement does not apply to files that were not originally part of the MPL-covered software.

One consequence of this is that one might take a library under the MPL, put all substantial changes in separate files, and release the resulting code in object form, but not the source code for the new files. Contrast this with the LGPL, which has terms specifically to prevent additions to the library from being 'isolated' from the LGPL by distributing them as part of the application rather than the library: as we have seen in the previous post, Section 2 of the LGPL requires that the library does not depend on functions and data provided by the application, unless you switch to the GPL (thus requiring the application to be GPL-compatible too).

Executables need not be under the MPL

Section 3.2(a) allows distributing the code in executable form, provided that the source code for the Covered Software is available, and recipients of the executable are informed how they can obtain it "by reasonable means in a timely manner, at a charge no more than the cost of distribution to the recipient".

Section 3.2(b) states that the executable may be distributed under the MPL or under different terms, provided that the new terms do not limit the access to the source code form of the Covered Software (i.e., the files originally under the MPL).

This means the MPL imposes no restrictions on static linking, other than that the MPL-covered source code remains available, and you tell users how to get it.

(L)GPL compatibility

Section 1 defines "Secondary License" as one of the GPLv2, the LGPLv2.1, the AGPLv3, or any later versions of those licenses.

Section 3.3 provides that if the software is distributed as part of a Larger Work which combines MPL-covered software and software under any of the Secondary Licenses, the MPL allows the MPL-covered software to be additionally distributed under the terms of that Secondary License.

An important point here is the "additionally" part: the Covered Software is to be distributed under the *GPL license in addition to the MPL, i.e., the resulting code is effectively dual-licensed. Recipients of the larger work may, at their option, choose to redistribute the originally MPL-covered part of the work under either the MPL or the Secondary License(s).

This provision makes the MPL GPL-compatible: you can incorporate MPL-covered code in GPL projects.

The author of an MPL-covered work can opt out of GPL compatibility by adding a specific note saying the code is "Incompatible With Secondary Licenses" (Exhibit B).

Patents and trademarks

Section 2.1(b) ensures that all contributors automatically grant a license for any patents they may hold to use, modify, distribute, etc., the covered software. Section 11 of GPLv3 has similar terms.

Section 2.3 is very careful to state that each constributor grants all and only those patents necessary for use, distribution, etc., of the their contributor version. It does not cover, for example, licenses for code a contributor has removed from their contributor version; or for infringements caused by further modification of the software by third parties (GPLv3 also has similar wording).

Section 2.3 also explicitly states that the license does not grant rights in trademarks or logos. This makes sense in light of Mozilla's fierce hold onto its trademarks and logos, which in the past led to the rebranding of Firefox as Iceweasel in Debian until an agreement was reached between Debian and Mozilla.

Like the Apache License, The MPL has a patent retaliation clause (Section 5.2): it states that if a patent holder sues someone alleging that the Covered Software infringes a patent of theirs, they lose the rights granted by the license to use the Covered Software. This is meant to discourage recepients of the software from suing the authors for patent infringement.


MPL is a weak copyleft license, providing a middle ground between the liberal MIT/BSD/Apache licenses and the *GPL licenses. It makes it really easy to incorporate the code into larger works, regardless of whether this is done via static or dynamic linking. On the other hand, the fact that it does not automatically extend to other files within the same project makes it easy to extend a library without releasing the relevant additions as free software.

I might use the MPL in the future for libraries in situations where the most convienient way to use the library is to just copy the damn files into your codebase (e.g., portable Scheme code). For larger libraries and projects where I want to ensure contributions remain free, I'm not so sure.

I would like a license that's midway between the MPL and the LGPL, allowing generation of statically-linked executables distributable under different licenses like the MPL, but with the boundary between the copylefted and non-copylefted parts defined more like the LGPL (though I'm sure the devil is in the details when crafting a license like this). If you know some license with terms closer to this, please mention it in the comments.


So far the interwebs have pointed me to:

Addendum [2]

The MPL states:

1.10. “Modifications”

means any of the following:

  1. any file in Source Code Form that results from an addition to, deletion from, or modification of the contents of Covered Software; or

  2. any new file in Source Code Form that contains any Covered Software.

A possible solution would be to use a license exactly like the MPL, except with an extra item like:

  1. any new file in Source Code Form that other Modifications in senses (a) or (b) depend on.

The exact wording (to pin down the meaning of "depend on") would have to be figured out.

Comentários / Comments

Elmord looks at licenses: LGPLv3

2019-04-29 14:38 -0300. Tags: comp, copyright, hel, fenius, in-english

Hel is distributed under the GPLv3. The license of the interpreter does not impose any restriction on the licenses of the programs it runs, so there is no requirement for Hel programs to be GPL'd too. However, Hel will (I hope) soon get libraries, and the licenses of the libraries may affect the licenses of the programs importing them. So I have to decide: which license to use for the Hel standard libraries?

The obvious choice would be the LGPL (the GNU Lesser General Public License), a license meant for libraries to allow linking to proprietary programs. I don't think I have ever released anything under the LGPL before. While I have a pretty good idea of what the GPL means, the LGPL was not so clear to me, especially about what it means for statically vs. dynamically linked libraries, and how this distinction applies to languages other than C/C++. This post is my attempt to understand it.

The other option I have thought about is the MPL (Mozilla Public License). However, I think the MPL's copyleft may be way too weak for my tastes. I intend to write about it in the future.

[Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice, etc.]

Digression: (L)GPL 2 vs. 3

Most licenses are written in a hard-to-read legalese. I find the GPLv3 and LGPLv3 particularly hard to read; this is partly because the FSF has tried to make definitions more precise and to avoid terminology which could be interpreted in different ways in different countries.

By contrast, the GPLv2 and LGPLv2 are some of the most "written by/for humans" licenses around; they are truly a pleasure to read, so much so that, were it not for some important guarantees added in GPLv3, I would be tempted to keep using the GPLv2 for my software.

These important guarantees include:

For all of these reasons, I prefer to use the (L)GPL version 3 nowadays. End of digression.

The LGPLv3

The LGPLv3 is defined by inclusion of the terms of the GPLv3 plus a number of overrides. For this reason, it is relatively short compared to the GPLv3. I will try to summarize each section as I understand it below.

Section 0 defines a bunch of terms. "The Library" refers to the work released under the LGPLv3. An "Application" is an application which uses interfaces provided by the Library, but the application is not derived from the Library itself. A "Combined Work" is the work produced by the combining or linking the Application with the Library. (Some more terms are defined, but we'll see them later.)

Section 1 allows distributing the library without being bound by Section 3 of the GPL. That's the anti-anti-circumvention clause, and I find it somewhat surprising to see it waived here, but there it is.

Section 2 states that if you modify the library in such a way that it depends on data or functions provided by the application (other than as arguments passed to the library), you must either make sure the library still works in the absence of such data/functions, or release the modified version under the GPL (without the extra permissions granted by the LGPL).

The idea here is to preclude a legal trick. Someone might want to extend the library with proprietary code, and escape LGPL's copyleft by leaving the proprietary code as part of the application, and then making the library call the application's proprietary extensions. Section 2 requires that either the external application code is inessential for the library's operation, or else that the library be distributed under the GPL (and thus the application would also have to be distributed under a GPL-compatible license to be usable with the library).

Section 3 states that if your compiled program incorporates significant portions of header files from the library, it has to carry a notice saying it uses the library and that the library covered by the LGPL, and the program must be acompanied with a copy of the text of the GPL and LGPL.

One problem here is that "header file" is not defined in the license. It works for C/C++, but how it applies to other languages is debatable. Does calling a syntax-rules macro from the library trigger this clause?

Section 4 covers the distribution of a combined work consisting of the application plus the library. Besides the usual requirements to carry a notice and accompany the work with copies of the licenses, it also requires that you either (1) use a shared library mechanism to link with the library, so that the user can use modified versions of the library with the program; or (2) distribute the source code for the library and the source or object code for the application in such a way that the user can recombine a modified version of the library with the application object code.

The goal here is to ensure that the user still has all the freedoms to change the library (which is free), even if the application is proprietary. That's great in principle, but again it raises the question of what this means for macro expansion (which happens at compile time); there is no 'uncombined' object code when the application invokes macros from the library.

It also complicates static linking as a form of deployment; you still can do it (macros notwithstanding), but the packaging tool must also generate an uncombined application object code to be distributed with the fully statically-linked version.

Section 5 deals with combining multiple libraries (with similar requirements to provide an uncombined version too).

Section 6 deals with future versions of the LGPL, allowing the author to choose to release the code under LGPL "version 3 or later", and also allowing the author to specify a proxy who can decide whether later versions apply.

Possible solutions

The difficulties of applying the LPGL to Lisp-like languages have been recognized before. Franz Inc. created a Lisp Lesser General Public License, which adds a preamble to LGPL (v2.1, not v3) overriding some definitions of the LGPL to terms more appropriate to Common Lisp, and instructing that static linking is to be treated as a "work that uses the Library", not a "derivative of the Library" (i.e., an Application and not a Combined Work, in LGPLv3's terms), effectively treating static linking the same way as dynamic linking.

Interestingly, the LLGPL is not a simple weakening of LGPL's copyleft: it also states, for example, that redefinitions of functions of the library (something you can do in Common Lisp) do constitute modification of the library itself, and therefore the new definitions are subject to copyleft.

The LLGPL uses definitions that are appropriate to Common Lisp, but a similar set of definitions and exceptions could be crafted for Hel (although I would prefer to avoid language-specific terminology as much as possible).

In a future post, I intend to have a look at the Mozilla Public License and evaluate if it may be a good idea for Hel libraries.

Comentários / Comments


2015-11-18 19:36 -0200. Tags: freedom, copyright

Hoje a Polícia Federal prendeu os administradores do site Mega Filmes HD e levou mais cinco pessoas supostamente envolvidas com o site para serem ouvidas.

"Mega Filmes HD" virou trending topic no Twitter (e ainda está no topo dos trending topics do Brasil). A maioria dos tweets é gente inconformada com o fato de que o site está para sair do ar. Honestamente, o site sair do ar é o de menos. O que nós deveríamos estar nos preocupando com é que pessoas foram presas por "violação de direitos autorais".

Eu não sou necessariamente contra a restrição de uso comercial de obras copyrighted, então eu não necessariamente acho (por ora) que coisas como o Mega Filmes devam ser permitidas. O que eu definitivamente não acho certo é que alguém possa ser preso por violação de direito autoral, comercial ou não. Simplesmente não é aceitável que alguém vá para a cadeia por distribuir cópias de filmes, livros ou obras quaisquer. Se é para proibir "violação de direitos autorais", então que tirem o site do ar, cobrem multa (num valor razoável, não mil vezes o "valor" de cada cópia), whatever. Agora mandar alguém para a cadeia por distribuir cópias de obras publicadas é uma medida totalmente desproporcional à "gravidade" da situação (que é basicamente nenhuma).

Assim, eu vos peço humildemente para assinar a petição do Partido Pirata do Brasil para libertar os administradores e salvar o site.

Addendum: Mesmo que você ache que assinar a petição não vai levar a nada, mostrar que há bastante gente que se importa com a questão já é alguma coisa. Assumindo que haja.

1 comentário / comment

LaTeX vs. GPL, ou Vocês nunca entenderão o legalismus

2013-11-05 21:38 -0200. Tags: comp, copyright, ramble

Disclaimer: Este post, que começou muito bem-apessoado e com esperança de responder de maneira clara algumas questões, acabou virando um texto extremamente rambloso que não responde coisa nenhuma. You have been warned.

Estou escrevendo a monografia do meu TCC em LaTeX, usando um modelo do pacote iiufrgs, mantido pelo Grupo de Usuários TeX da UFRGS (UTUG). O iiufrgs é distribuído sob a GPL versão 2 ou superior. Software livre, que legal!, não? O problema é que a GPL exige que obras derivadas de uma obra sob a GPL também estejam sob a GPL. Surge, assim, uma questão que muito possivelmente não ocorreu à galera que resolveu distribuir o pacote sob a GPL: um documento produzido a partir de um pacote LaTeX sob a GPL é uma obra derivada do pacote?

No caso de a resposta ser sim, há algumas conseqüências práticas. As que me ocorrem no momento são:

Este post contém os meus palpites sobre o assunto.

Disclaimer[2]: Eu não sou advogado. Estes palpites baseiam-se no meu vago e duvidoso conhecimento das leis em questão e são oferecidos as-is sem qualquer garantia de qualquer tipo, incluindo mas não se limitando a etc etc ipsis literis hocus pocus etc. Use por sua conta e risco.


O que conta como obra derivada? A GPLv2 diz (ênfase minha):

0. This License applies to any program or other work which contains a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed under the terms of this General Public License. The "Program", below, refers to any such program or work, and a "work based on the Program" means either the Program or any derivative work under copyright law: that is to say, a work containing the Program or a portion of it, either verbatim or with modifications and/or translated into another language. (Hereinafter, translation is included without limitation in the term "modification".) Each licensee is addressed as "you".

"Translated into another language" supostamente se refere à tradução do programa para outras linguagens computacionais (e.g., compilação para linguagem de máquina).

Antes de mais nada, vale lembrar que os fontes em LaTeX são basicamente programas. Para fins deste post, "programa LaTeX" se refere a um arquivo escrito na linguagem LaTeX, e pdflatex se refere ao programa que lê programas LaTeX e produz PDFs. Há dois pontos a se considerar aqui:

  1. Usar um pacote GPL torna um programa LaTeX GPL?
  2. O PDF resultante de um programa GPL está coberto pela GPL?

A primeira questão é meio duvidosa. Distribuir seu programa LaTeX com comandos \usepackage que incluem pacotes GPL sem distribuir os pacotes junto definitivamente não torna seu programa GPL. Porém, no momento em que o programa é processado pelo pdflatex, pode-se considerar que ele foi combinado com o programa GPL, e o bolo alimentar resultante está sob a GPL. Essa discussão é similar à velha história de se um programa linkado com uma biblioteca GPL está sob a GPL ou não, que se reduz à questão de se um programa que usa uma biblioteca é uma obra derivada da biblioteca. A FSF acha que sim. Eu me limito a não achar nada.

A segunda questão contém várias subquestões. A primeira é se a geração de um PDF a partir de um programa LaTeX conta como uma obra derivada do programa. Isso depende em parte de o que exatamente o pdflatex faz com os arquivos. Eu vejo duas possíveis interpretações:

  1. O pdflatex lê o programa LaTeX e o compila para PDF. Nesse caso, o resultado é uma tradução do programa LaTeX para PDF, e portanto está coberto pela GPL;
  2. O pdflatex lê o programa LaTeX e executa suas instruções. Nesse caso, o resultado é meramente a saída do programa, e não uma tradução, e a saída de um programa GPL por si só não constitui uma obra derivada do programa, a menos que ela inclua trechos do programa ou modificações ou traduções de trechos. Isto é, o status da saída de um programa como obra derivada não depende do fato de ela ter sido produzida pelo programa, e sim por seu conteúdo.

E aqui eu também fico na dúvida, pois a coisa é um tanto quanto sutil. O que me impede de dizer que o que um compilador C faz é executar um programa em uma domain-specific language para geração de código de máquina? Nesse caso o binário seria só a saída da execução do programa, e portanto não seria uma obra derivada. "A menos que a saída contenha uma obra derivada", você me diz, apontando para o fato de que a tal saída poderia ser vista como uma "tradução" do programa C, e portanto uma obra derivada (por definição pelo parágrafo 0 da GPLv2), apesar de ter sido produzida por "execução", e não por "tradução". Mas o que conta como tradução? Se eu escrevo um programa que imprime a data atual, eu não posso considerar a saída como uma "tradução" do programa? Imagino que não, porque a saída não é "equivalente" ao programa: ela produz uma data fixa, e não a data atual. Mas e se o programa produzir uma saída fixa? Se P é o programa:

for (i=1; i<=5; i++) printf("%d ", i*i);

o programa

printf("1 4 9 16 25 ");

é uma tradução / obra derivada do programa P? Se a resposta for não, então um compilador super-otimizante corre o risco de produzir um executável que não é uma obra derivada do fonte. (Imagine a mesma situação com um código-fonte de milhares de linhas transformado beyond recognition por um compilador.) Mas se a resposta é sim, abre-se um precedente para considerar a saída de um programa cuja saída é sempre a mesma uma obra derivada do programa. Acontece que um programa LaTeX é exatamente um tal programa; ignorando coisas como geração da data atual na capa do documento, um programa LaTeX sempre produz um PDF "equivalente".

Me parece difícil nesse caso, entretanto, considerar o PDF diretamente como uma obra derivada do pacote, pois o pacote não gera sempre a mesma saída; o PDF não é "operacionalmente equivalente" ao pacote. Quem gera sempre a mesma saída é o seu programa, que por acaso usa o pacote. Porém, se o fato de "linkar" o programa com o pacote produz uma substância mista que é uma obra derivada do pacote, coberta pela GPL, o PDF seria a tradução dessa substância mista, e portanto uma obra derivada, e portanto coberta pela GPL.


A conclusão é que eu sinceramente não sei se o PDF produzido a partir de um programa LaTeX que usa um pacote GPL está coberto pela GPL, e que copyright é uma coisa não muito bem definida quando transposta para o mundo do software. O que eu sei é que todo esse transtorno poderia ter sido evitado se o pessoal do UTUG tivesse usado uma outra licença para o iiufrgs. Talvez simplesmente usar a LGPL ao invés da GPL resolva esse problema. Outra alternativa seria adicionar uma "linking exception" à nota de copyright dos arquivos do iiufrgs. Escrever os detalhes da exceção é sugerido como exercício para o leitor.

Comentários / Comments

Against Intellectual Monopoly

2013-04-04 15:12 -0300. Tags: freedom, book, copyright

In late 1764, while repairing a small Newcomen steam engine, the idea of allowing steam to expand and condense in separate containers sprang into the mind of James Watt. He spent the next few months in unceasing labor building a model of the new engine. In 1768, after a series of improvements and substantial borrowing, he applied for a patent on the idea, requiring him to travel to London in August. He spent the next six months working hard to obtain his patent. It was finally awarded in January of the following year. Nothing much happened by way of production until 1775. Then, with a major effort supported by his business partner, the rich industrialist Matthew Boulton, Watt secured an Act of Parliament extending his patent until the year 1800. The great statesman Edmund Burke spoke eloquently in Parliament in the name of economic freedom and against the creation of unnecessary monopoly – but to no avail.1 The connections of Watt’s partner Boulton were too solid to be defeated by simple principle.

Once Watt’s patents were secured and production started, a substantial portion of his energy was devoted to fending off rival inventors. In 1782, Watt secured an additional patent, made “necessary in consequence of ... having been so unfairly anticipated, by [Matthew] Wasborough in the crank motion.”2 More dramatically, in the 1790s, when the superior Hornblower engine was put into production, Boulton and Watt went after him with the full force of the legal system.3

During the period of Watt’s patents the U.K. added about 750 horsepower of steam engines per year. In the thirty years following Watt’s patents, additional horsepower was added at a rate of more than 4,000 per year. Moreover, the fuel efficiency of steam engines changed little during the period of Watt’s patent; while between 1810 and 1835 it is estimated to have increased by a factor of five.4

After the expiration of Watt’s patents, not only was there an explosion in the production and efficiency of engines, but steam power came into its own as the driving force of the industrial revolution. Over a thirty year period steam engines were modified and improved as crucial innovations such as the steam train, the steamboat and the steam jenny came into wide usage. The key innovation was the high-pressure steam engine – development of which had been blocked by Watt’s strategic use of his patent. Many new improvements to the steam engine, such as those of William Bull, Richard Trevithick, and Arthur Woolf, became available by 1804: although developed earlier these innovations were kept idle until the Boulton and Watt patent expired. None of these innovators wished to incur the same fate as Jonathan Hornblower.5

Ironically, not only did Watt use the patent system as a legal cudgel with which to smash competition, but his own efforts at developing a superior steam engine were hindered by the very same patent system he used to keep competitors at bay. An important limitation of the original Newcomen engine was its inability to deliver a steady rotary motion. The most convenient solution, involving the combined use of the crank and a flywheel, relied on a method patented by James Pickard, which prevented Watt from using it. Watt also made various attempts at efficiently transforming reciprocating into rotary motion, reaching, apparently, the same solution as Pickard. But the existence of a patent forced him to contrive an alternative less efficient mechanical device, the “sun and planet” gear. It was only in 1794, after the expiration of Pickard’s patent that Boulton and Watt adopted the economically and technically superior crank.6

The impact of the expiration of his patents on Watt’s empire may come as a surprise. As might be expected, when the patents expired “many establishments for making steam-engines of Mr. Watt's principle were then commenced.” However, Watt’s competitors “principally aimed at...cheapness rather than excellence.” As a result, we find that far from being driven out of business “Boulton and Watt for many years afterwards kept up their price and had increased orders.”7

In fact, it is only after their patents expired that Boulton and Watt really started to manufacture steam engines. Before then their activity consisted primarily of extracting hefty monopolistic royalties through licensing. Independent contractors produced most of the parts, and Boulton and Watt merely oversaw the assembly of the components by the purchasers.

In most histories, James Watt is a heroic inventor, responsible for the beginning of the industrial revolution. The facts suggest an alternative interpretation. Watt is one of many clever inventors working to improve steam power in the second half of the eighteenth century. After getting one step ahead of the pack, he remained ahead not by superior innovation, but by superior exploitation of the legal system. The fact that his business partner was a wealthy man with strong connections in Parliament, was not a minor help.

Was Watt’s patent a crucial incentive needed to trigger his inventive genius, as the traditional history suggests? Or did his use of the legal system to inhibit competition set back the industrial revolution by a decade or two? More broadly, are the two essential components of our current system of intellectual property – patents and copyrights – with all of their many faults, a necessary evil we must put up with to enjoy the fruits of invention and creativity? Or are they just unnecessary evils, the relics of an earlier time when governments routinely granted monopolies to favored courtiers? That is the question we seek to answer.

Against Intellectual Monopoly

O livro completo está disponível para download. É compridinho (ainda estou no começo), mas vale a pena.

3 comentários / comments

The right to copy

2012-09-07 12:44 -0300. Tags: freedom, copyright

Eu sempre fico surpreso quando encontro uma pessoa que leva o copyright tal como existe a sério. Talvez eu não devesse. Eu me lembro que ler o Misinterpreting Copyright pela primeira vez há seis ou sete anos foi uma mudança de paradigma apreciável.

"Pirataria" é ilegal. Isso significa alguma coisa quanto a ela ser moralmente correta ou não? Escravidão já foi legal, e casamento entre pessoas do mesmo sexo ainda é ilegal em muitos lugares. A lei não precede a ética; idealmente, a lei é um reflexo da ética, e se há uma divergência entre as duas, é a lei que tem que ser adaptada, não a ética.

Copyright, ou direito autoral, não é um direito natural do autor; pelo contrário, o copyright interfere no meu direito natural de fazer o que eu bem entender com uma obra uma vez que esteja de posse da mesma. Se eu tenho um livro, eu deveria poder descrever seu conteúdo e distribuir essa descrição, da mesma forma que eu posso pedir um prato em um restaurante e descrever a receita e a disposição dos ingredientes no prato.

O copyright, portanto, não é um direito natural, mas sim um mecanismo que viabiliza a lucrabilidade de uma obra intelectual. O copyright é uma concessão dos nossos direitos que fazemos ao autor. O objetivo dessa concessão é dar um incentivo econômico ao autor para produzir obras intelectuais. Esse incentivo, entretanto, existe para o benefício do público, que assim teoricamente obtém mais obras, e não puramente para satisfazer o autor. Ilegalizar o direito de emprestar um livro talvez gerasse um lucro maior para o autor, mas consideraríamos uma lei assim inaceitável (ou pelo menos deveríamos). O ponto é que cabe ao público decidir de que direitos está disposto a abdicar para incentivar os autores.

Na época em que o copyright foi estabelecido, fazer cópias de uma obra era uma atividade custosa, que era apenas viável se realizada em larga escala, por editoras ou gravadoras. Nesse caso, restrições sobre o direito de cópia afetavam primariamente essas organizações; o público, largamente inafetado pelo copyright, primariamente se beneficiava com a existência do mesmo. Hoje em dia, fazer cópias de uma obra em formato eletrônico é extremamente simples, e com isso o interesse do público em realizar essa atividade aumentou. O benefício proporcionado pelo copyright tem se tornado cada vez menor em comparação com seu "custo", já que ele restringe uma atividade que é de interesse da população em geral.

A "indústria de conteúdo" propõe uma analogia entre propriedade física e intelectual, e iguala cópia a roubo. Essa analogia não faz sentido; ao copiar uma obra, não estamos tirando nada de ninguém. No máximo, pode se argumentar que estejamos reduzindo a probabilidade de que comprem a obra do autor original, e conseqüentemente seu lucro. Esse argumento é problemático. Não é certo que a quantidade de vendas de uma obra aumente diante da impossibilidade de copiar; muitas pessoas que copiam simplesmente não comprariam a obra de qualquer forma, e muitas pessoas comprariam a obra independentemente da possibilidade de copiar. Mas em última instância, esse argumento é irrelevante: se a população em geral não está disposta a ceder seu direito de copiar, a indústria é que tem que se adaptar ao fato. O argumento é irrelevante da mesma maneira que um argumento do tipo "a abolição da escravatura reduzirá os lucros dos fazendeiros" seria irrelevante (independente de ser verdadeiro ou falso) na defesa da escravidão.

Na minha opinião, uma forma limitada de copyright poderia existir e deveria ter uma função: garantir ao autor um monopólio sobre a lucrabilidade de uma obra. Isto é, o autor de um livro (por exemplo), se desejar, deveria poder ter uma garantia de que uma editora não vai tomar seu livro e começar a vendê-lo sem pagar nada ao autor. O direito de um autor de receber crédito pelo uso de sua obra também faz sentido, mas seus direitos não deveriam ir muito mais longe que isso. Cópia sem fins lucrativos, em particular, deveria ser um direito de todos.

Muito do que eu disse aqui, e muito do que eu não disse, já foi dito por camarada Stallman no Misinterpreting Copyright e outros textos. Leia-os.

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Misinterpreting copyright

2012-03-21 01:06 -0300. Tags: comp, freedom, copyright

“Don't people have a right to control how their creativity is used?”

“Control over the use of one's ideas” really constitutes control over other people's lives; and it is usually used to make their lives more difficult.

People who have studied the issue of intellectual property rights(8) carefully (such as lawyers) say that there is no intrinsic right to intellectual property. The kinds of supposed intellectual property rights that the government recognizes were created by specific acts of legislation for specific purposes.

For example, the patent system was established to encourage inventors to disclose the details of their inventions. Its purpose was to help society rather than to help inventors. At the time, the life span of 17 years for a patent was short compared with the rate of advance of the state of the art. Since patents are an issue only among manufacturers, for whom the cost and effort of a license agreement are small compared with setting up production, the patents often do not do much harm. They do not obstruct most individuals who use patented products.

The idea of copyright did not exist in ancient times, when authors frequently copied other authors at length in works of nonfiction. This practice was useful, and is the only way many authors' works have survived even in part. The copyright system was created expressly for the purpose of encouraging authorship. In the domain for which it was invented—books, which could be copied economically only on a printing press—it did little harm, and did not obstruct most of the individuals who read the books.

All intellectual property rights are just licenses granted by society because it was thought, rightly or wrongly, that society as a whole would benefit by granting them. But in any particular situation, we have to ask: are we really better off granting such license? What kind of act are we licensing a person to do?

The case of programs today is very different from that of books a hundred years ago. The fact that the easiest way to copy a program is from one neighbor to another, the fact that a program has both source code and object code which are distinct, and the fact that a program is used rather than read and enjoyed, combine to create a situation in which a person who enforces a copyright is harming society as a whole both materially and spiritually; in which a person should not do so regardless of whether the law enables him to.

The GNU Manifesto

Essa idéia é expandida em Misinterpreting Copyright, o texto que mudou minha vida seis ou sete anos atrás.

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