Re: A reminder about the facts

From: Kaz Kylheku <>
Date: Mon, 2 Jun 1997 12:10:35 -0700 (PDT)

On Mon, 2 Jun 1997, Eric S. Raymond wrote:

> Date: Mon, 2 Jun 1997 11:05:43 -0400
> From: "Eric S. Raymond" <>
> Reply-To:
> To:,,
> Subject: A reminder about the facts
> In view of Mr. Dickey's last post, I think everybody ought to be
> reminded of some important facts:
> (1) *Both* copyright holders (myself and Zeyd) have now rejected
> Thomas Dickey's version of events.
> (2) *Both* of the two most senior maintainers (myself and Zeyd) have
> now described being driven away in disgust by Thomas Dickey's
> high-handedness, dumb intransigence, and outright lies.
> I fear there are still some people out there who think I'm on some
> kind of crazed solo power trip. Please consider Zeyd's public
> statements on this list and learn otherwise.

I've been receiving this list for a long time, like over two years now
I think. Dickey's behavior has always seemed fishy, like he wants to be
the ncurses God at any cost.

I say, write your own project. You don't prance into someone else's territory
and start throwing weight around. It doesn't matter how good your patches are;
technical merit is not in question. Should we grant special rights to genius
programmers to usurp any software project they please?

If Dickey is such a hot shot, he should be able to implement a curses library
from the ground up.

I think a few people here need to go news.answers/law/copyright/faq for a
little refresher course. Free software remains the copyrights of its authors.
Only the right to redistribute is waived (the GPL makes additional
restrictions on that redistribution, but the GPL is not in question here since
ncurses isn't under it). There are other rights beside distribution rights,
and these remain reserved by the authors, unless they are explicitly waived.

>From part2 of the faq:

In the United States, these seven rights are recognized:

   1) the reproductive right: the right to reproduce the work in
   2) the adaptative right: the right to produce derivative works
      based on the copyrighted work;
   3) the distribution right: the right to distribute copies of
      the work;
   4) the performance right: the right to perform the copyrighted
      work publicly;
   5) the display right: the right to display the copyrighted work
   6) the attribution right (sometimes called the paternity
      right): the right of the author to claim authorship of the
      work and to prevent the use of his or her name as the author
      of a work he or she did not create;
   7) the integrity right: the right of an author to prevent the
      use of his or her name as the author of a distorted version
      of the work, to prevent intentional distortion of the work,
      and to prevent destruction of the work.

                                 17 U.S.C. 106, 106A.

The ncurses authors have waived rights 1 and 3 for the benefit of the user
community, allowing people to copy and distribute ncurses. Rights 4 and 5
doesn't apply here, they are more for audio and visual arts.

However, rights 2, 6 and 7 clearly apply to software. Eric and Zeyd clearly
have the sole right to produce derivative works, have the sole right to claim
authorship of the work and to prevent their names from being used as the
authors of something they did not create, whether it be a modified or
distorted version of their work or something totally original.

There is no indication that they have given up these rights. Hence they can
claim any derivative of ncurses as their own, without including any copyright
notices on behalf of anyone else. They can also reject any poor quality,
botched-up, derivative works as belonging to them, since they can be construed
as a distrotions that violates the integrity right. (Incidentally, in software
it's not immediately apparent what is a distortion, and what is solid gold.
Any deriviation could be suspected to be a distortion until verified to
be otherwise).

The GPL is different in that it, but permits modification, hence waives the
adaptive right to some extent. My interpretation is that the GPL extends
``joint rights'' in the sense that new authors may avail themselves of the
adaptive right, without taking the right away from the original authors (since
copyright notices are required to be preserved, and changes must be
promienently marked), and may not reserve rights that the original authors did
not reserve (the software must remain under the GPL). Under the GPL,
Thomas could modify ncurses and add his own copyright messages. However,
the GPL is too naive to be of any use in situations of conflict, such as
this one. It does not resolve the issue of who is ``head honcho'' of the
software project: who gets to make official releases, allocate version numbers
and so forth.
Received on Mon Jun 02 1997 - 15:19:58 EDT

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