use of the kernel and licensing

Polytropon freebsd at
Sun Mar 31 15:08:57 UTC 2013

On Sun, 31 Mar 2013 16:43:27 +0200, Michael Ross wrote:
> On Sun, 31 Mar 2013 16:31:43 +0200, Polytropon <freebsd at> wrote:
> > On Sun, 31 Mar 2013 09:39:29 -0400, Joe wrote:
> >> Does one have to file legal paper work with the government to be issued
> >> a copyright on software?
> >
> > With _which_ government? :-)
> >
> > Basic understanding of copyright is: The stuff _you_ write
> > happens "automatically" under _your_ copyright, because you
> > are the creator. There is nothing you need to do to achieve
> > the copyright - it's yours by acting. At the moment you
> > write something like "(C) Joe Sixpack 2012" it's "set in
> > stone".
> >
> > There might be other ways to prove (!) copyright, e. g. when
> > one of your files appears in someone else's work, but now
> > with the originator line saying "(C) Nick Nosewhite 2013".
> > In case of a court trial which involves copyright, you can
> > prove from your CVS "log of creation" (or whatever source
> > management system or even file system you use) that _you_
> > have been writing that code, nobody else.
> >
> >
> >
> >> Does any software not having a copyright statement or any license
> >> comments included in the source mean that it's public domain?
> >
> > I would assume this. Imagine a snippet of code with no author
> > mentioned in it (or in the source it comes from, or any file
> > it is accompanied by), how would you be able to conclude
> > something _else_ than this is public domain with _no_
> > copyright holder?
> I think you are wrong here.
> quoting
> "Under the Berne Convention, which most countries have signed, an author  
> automatically obtains the exclusive copyright to anything they have  
> written, and local law may similarly grant copyright, patent, or trademark  
> rights by default. The Berne Convention also covers programs. Therefore, a  
> program is automatically subject to a copyright, and if it is to be placed  
> in the public domain, the author must explicitly disclaim the copyright  
> and other rights on it in some way."
> Note the wording "explicitly disclaim".

This exactly expresses my interpretation, maybe I didn't find
the right words. "Obtaining" copyright is implicit (by creating
stuff), giving up copyright is an explicit act.

Copyright information and licensing statements don't have to
be neccessarily included in the file in question, they could
also be in a file "coming with" the file in question, such
as a LICENSE text file or AUTHORS, or in a manpage refering
to a specific program (even though it's quite common to place
that information at least as comments in source files). No
not finding this information in the source and therefor _assuming_
there is no copyright holder or no license (and therefor "all
rights granted") is wrong.

An exception might actually be code snippets "below the 'triviality
threshold'" (as you mentioned is at least known in Germany) which
have been published anonymously. In this case, neither an author
or a license can be found, and in the absence of _both_, the
assumption of the snippet being in the public domain would at
least be undertandable. If it is _valid_ under all circumstances
and in all juristictions, that's a totally different questions,
to be answered by two lawyers with three opinions. :-)

> While German law has something like a "triviality threshold" which may  
> well apply to very small code snippets,
> i'd say "no included license" by default means "all rights reserved".

As for licenses (copyright aside), this may very well be. If
no rights are explicitely granted (even the "do whatever you
want" right), it could be invalid to simply _assume_ such a

The "no license included" approach, on the other hand, could
also show the authors attitude as "I don't care", also a valid

Magdeburg, Germany
Happy FreeBSD user since 4.0
Andra moi ennepe, Mousa, ...

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