does Copyright on source files expire ?

Robert Watson rwatson at
Thu Mar 26 14:42:50 PDT 2009

On Thu, 26 Mar 2009, ttw+bsd at wrote:

> On 25.03-05:31, David Schultz wrote:
> [ ... ]
>> A person's Copyright doesn't go away just because they die, disappear, or 
>> fail to respond. If you can't contact them, their heirs, or whomever they 
>> transferred the Copyright to, you're stuck.
> yeah but it's a little like finding something.  if there not about and not 
> reachable there isn't much they can do to stop you using it. if they popup 
> and make demands later then you get to choose between re-writes and haggling 
> (twenty shekels is standard).

In some countries, such as the US, copyright violation can be a criminal, not 
just civil, matter.

Also, in countries where copyright can be assigned, the holder listed in a 
file may not accurately represent who the current holder is, so while the 
original author may be unreachable, etc, the current holder may be alive and 

Robert N M Watson
Computer Laboratory
University of Cambridge
> point is you "can" use it, the actual copyright owner needs to sue
> you; not like saying "jehovah" which may result in action by the agents
> of the state.
> n.b: using the above opinion may get you crucified.
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