Merging network and network-bytestring: license question

wren ng thornton wren at
Sun Oct 31 20:22:31 EDT 2010

On 10/31/10 3:47 PM, Brandon S Allbery KF8NH wrote:
> On 10/29/10 19:12 , wren ng thornton wrote:
>> But this only holds for so long. Once there's some major refactoring and the
>> parts of network and network-bytestring are mixed beyond recognition, then
>> there is only the combined work. The University's portion cannot be
>> extracted and considered under the University's license. The combined work
> Copyright law doesn't operate this way in most jurisdictions.

Sure it does. After there's been enough mixing, few courts will find 
enough evidence to say that these three identifiers or that particular 
algorithm came from such-and-so contributor without any contribution by 
others. That such-and-so contributed will remain in effect in 
perpetuity, as will the license under which their contribution is 
released (for all intents and purposes, US IP law being what it is), but 
the exact specification of what artifact within the combined work 
corresponds to the contribution will be lost (barring sufficient 
evidence from VCSes and the like). Yes, _technically_ there's still an 
artifact in there somewhere, but a court must decide whether some 
specific act infringes on the rights of such-and-so, and once enough 
mixing has happened a reasonable court would not have a lot of evidence 
that such-and-so's rights were violated (assuming no violation of the 
general license for the entirety of the combined work). Now, if there is 
not a lot of mixing or if such-and-so's contribution was a specific 
algorithm that is recognizably still in use, then the court would be 
able to identify the specific content of such-and-so's contribution and 
therefore would be able to reasonably conclude that someone has violated 
such-and-so's rights (specifically) even if they have not violated the 
general license for the combined work.

The law and the court's ruling on the law are two very different things, 
especially when it comes to IP for computer programs et al.

Live well,

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