[Pmwiki-users] [ANN] A new release of FormTemplateSystem is available

Patrick R. Michaud pmichaud
Mon Dec 8 09:20:01 CST 2003

My contribution and comments...

IANAL, but I don't  that it's possible for a copyright to
absolutely prevent someone from modifying a work such as the FTS under
"all circumstances", at least under U.S. copyright law.  U.S.
copyright law grants the copyright holder six rights:
  1. reproduction of copies of the work
  2. preparation of derivative works
  3. distribution of copies to the public
  4. public performance of the work
  5. public display of the work
  6. public performance of audio digital recordings
Of these, the first three have the most impact on software--they are the
rights to copy, modify, and distribute a program.

However, copyright law is also restricted by a number of "fair use"
provisions; in particular, there is a concept of "personal fair use"
which says that the owner of a particular copy of a work (as opposed
to the holder of the copyright) can make copies of a work and modify
the copy of work for private use--i.e., those uses that don't
infringe the marketing and distribution rights of the copyright

Indeed, 17 U.S.C. 117 explicitly limits copyrights on computer
programs, and 117(1)(a) says that it is not an infringement of
copyright to make adaptations of a computer program if it's an
essential step in the utilization of the program in conjunction with a
machine (http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/117.html).  So, if I
have a program on my computer, I can modify/adapt it for my own personal
use.  Now then, redistributing the adapted version or modifications to
others *would* be an infringement of the copyright holder's reproduction
and distribution rights and is not permitted, but simply modifying a
program for private use is protected under various exclusions and fair use.

Again, I'm not a lawyer, so this isn't legal advice, and I've probably
missed a few fine points and distinctions here and there.  But I do
know that copyright protection does not grant a copyright holder
absolute control over the use of legally acquired copies of a work.


On Monday, December 8, 2003, 9:13:16 AM, you wrote:

> On Mon, Dec 08, 2003 at 12:46:14PM +0100, Carlo Strozzi wrote:
>> On Sun, Dec 07, 2003 at 09:46:53PM -0600, John Feezell wrote:
>> > Carlo, thanks for the note.
>> > 
>> > For the present I want to keep a tight control over code development.
>> > After I am sure that the code is very stable and does what I desire for
>> > the FTS, I'll consider other copyright options.

> Hmm. Just butting in here ... "other copyright options" isn't
> applicable. It's how you allow your copyrighted work to be used that's
> the problem. The code is still copyright to you (John) unless you assign
> it to someone else. Just like PmWiki is copyright Patrick Michaud. And
> do you think that Patrick doesn't have tight control over code
> development? I think several people on this list can attest to just how
> tightly Patrick controls pmwiki development.

> my Cents $two;

> -Scott

> P.S.  BTW, see http://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.html for all sorts of
>       info about the GPL.

More information about the pmwiki-users mailing list