Subject: Re: I don't understand Lisp
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: 1998/11/09
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Craig Brozefsky <>
| Unless I sign an NDA, there is no problem with me talking about the
| source code, or even referring to it within the bounds of fair use.  If
| written materials worked this way than I could only talk to you about
| Vineland after you had bought the book, and couldn't put a nifty one
| liner from it in my .sig without getting sued.

  "fair use" is a very complex topic in copyright law.  I, who have read
  large volumes on copyright law, do _not_ pretend to be able to predict
  whether a court will agree with me except in the obvious cases.  getting
  sued is expensive even if you are vindicated.  if the court decides the
  copyright claimant had reason to sue, despite losing, you are not
  rewarded legal fees, either.  I want to be certain that what I do is
  "unsuable", and thus ask permission instead of engaging in soapboxing on
  "fair use" before or after the fact.  I also know that claiming rights
  one does not in fact have is often enough to get sued, because reasonable
  communication is no longer possible, and he who has the rights stands to
  lose if he does not protect himself.

| If you publish source code, you expect people to read it, you don't
| expect them to copy it tho.  There is quite a difference between talking
| about and discussing a published work, and copying it.

  there is also a difference between talking about, and bringing your
  increased understanding from the source code you read into a new forum,
  essentially allowing duplication of code that various agreements bar you
  from redistributing.  such duplication is _not_ covered by "fair use",
  either -- that much I can say for certain.

| I think the fact that you had to use the phrase "in the strictest legal
| sense" is enough evidence that your stretching to the point where you've
| ripped the ass out of your pants.

  feel free to interpret it that way, but I prefer to cover my butt, ripped
  pants or no, instead of being kicked out of court with enormous legal
  fees after having made a point.  that is why I say "in the strictest
  legal sense".  in the strictest legal sense, it is illegal to bring a
  number of things into the U.S., too, but there is no way you could be
  caught doing it.  that doesn't mean you can boast of having done it and
  avoid prosecution.  another silly example: when tourists enter the U.S.,
  they have to sign a paper saying they are not guilty of "genocide".  if
  you ask "how many people does it take to call it `genocide', anyway?",
  don't expect to let the immigration office let you through no matter how
  much you say "OK, I'm in the clear, then".

| Unless there are some new ground breaking theories in intellectual
| property or whatever, could we bring this to a close.  I've got coding
| to do.

  it's pretty hard to leave someone who is so adamant about not listening
  to people who know better than him alone.  people get hurt listening to
  legal advice on USENET.  heed to caution, I say.  have a lawyer tell you
  whether he believes something is "fair use" or not, not someone with an
  obvious axe to grind.

  The Microsoft Dating Program -- where do you want to crash tonight?