Re: "Borrowing" code

=?ISO-8859-1?Q?Arne_Vajh=F8j?= <>
Fri, 17 Feb 2012 17:10:34 -0500
On 2/17/2012 4:21 AM, Lew wrote:

On Thursday, February 16, 2012 3:03:04 PM UTC-8, Gene Wirchenko wrote:

On Thu, 16 Feb 2012 13:51:34 -0800, Patricia Shanahan

On 2/16/2012 12:59 PM, Lew wrote:

BTW, asking a bunch of software guys for legal advice is absolutely a winning
formula. Make sure to ask taxi drivers for medical advice and supermarket
cashiers where to invest as well. ...

There is one situation in which asking a programmer about this is useful
- asking the author of the code about a proposed use.

The first step should, of course, be to look at the code itself and the
web site for licensing information. The next step, if the code contains
a copyright notice, an @author tag, or other indication of authorship,
should be to try to contact the author.

      I agree with this.

      I also think that someone posting tutorial material that is
freely available on the Web can be presumed to be making it freely
available for use. Otherwise, what is the point of the tutorial? An
explicit copyright statement with the code would trump that though.

It's too strong a conclusion, "freely" available. A tutorial's code very
reasonably could be licensed only for personal use in service of learning the
material in the tutorial. Presence in a tutorial is not presumptive evidence
that code is licensed freely or in the public domain.

Regardless of our assumptions, the law is what prevails. In the U.S., the law
does not require a copyright notice for there to be an enforceable copyright.

So while you may presume anything you want, presumptions not being things that
require or benefit from evidence, that presumptuousness can lead you into
trouble. The law will still hold you to account, and that trumps all

It's safer to assume, assumptions being things that can benefit from evidence.
In the case of U.S. copyright law, the safe assumption is that the material is
copyright, that the rights are restricted, and that you may not disseminate that expression beyond the boundaries of fair use, absent affirmative evidence

That's also a safe conclusion. Conclusions are things that require evidence.

Generalizing about the web is difficult. The web is partly commercial
and source code is made available under many different licenses. So
it would be difficult to argue that source code being freely available
on the web means us as you want.

But for usenet or certain specific web sites dedicated to help
other with programming problems, then the only realistic purpose
of posting code is for people to use it. So I would argue that
clicking submit indeed is giving out a permissive license to the

You do need a permission to use code, but I am not sure
that the permission need to be in writing.


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