Updated 2014-06-17 02:39:33 by RLE

Who owns the content on this wiki?

The original posters. And nobody. And everybody.

jcw, the owner of this site, has written:
 My understanding, and intention, for the wiki has always been to make
 it as freely available as possible (a second goal for me, is to stay
 out of legal issues).

 To me, that means that the wiki - which is an original collection of
 information of more-or-less original contributions - is for all
 practical purposes in the public domain.  I definitely do not "own" it
 in any sense.  At the same time, I do think that those who contribute
 have an implicit copyright - but by entering their text into the wiki,
 which is clearly a public resource (and known to be modifiable by
 anyone), I think one can reasonably argue that they are not placing any
 restrictions on the further distribution of their information (nor even
 alteration, for that matter).

 Not owning it means that whatever I say is no doubt irrelevant - but if
 it makes your publisher happy: I herewith waive all claims regarding
 ownership or distribution limitations.

 Another comforting fact no doubt, is that ActiveState have also
 included the wiki in full on the Tcl/Tk 2002 Conference CDROM.

 If someone wants to add a note to the wiki to clarify these issues, or
 quote me, or whatever, please do - you know how to make it happen :)

Legally, we can presume that copyright vests in whoever contributed to the pages. You own your own words. [1] On the other hand, the contributors have posted here with the intent of sharing their words and their code.

The convention, of course, is to make the proper attributions when copying material (assuming, of course, that one can figure out who the contributors are). Fraudulently asserting copyright is just that: fraud. We don't need a repetition of MathWorld's experience [2].

Practically, by posting here, you are giving up your rights unless you explicitly assert them (for example, by including a copyright notice in part of a page.

This means that if you don't like the above conditions, you should feel free to list specific licensing agreement information on software you have created and made available here on the wiki (or anywhere else, for that matter).

Of course, alas, there have been rogue users here. Sometimes they have made feelings run high.

There have been a few incidents in the past where people have felt that editing their pages was abusing them. For well or ill, however, Wiki is a collaborative effort. If you're going to post here, you can expect that material will at least be added. Our community does not generally disagree by deleting [3] nor by distorting [4] but may, for instance, move material from page to page as part of organizing the Wiki for others. Some members also feel free to delete material that appears to be "Wiki squatting" [5]. ''Wiki is not your blog." [6].

There has, apparently, also been an incident where code posted here appeared in someone else's library misattributed. The details are obscure; if the offending code is in the Tcl/Tk core or in Tcllib, the maintainers have extended an invitation to the victim to identify it (publicly or privately). We will make every effort to see that it is removed, that the attribution is corrected, or that other errors are corrected.

Needless to say, anything you find on this site, you use at your own risk. "Anything free comes with no guarantee." (LV: Shoot ... read those shrink wrapped licenses that come with nearly all commercial software - most of the ones I've seen also come with all sorts of disclaimers and attempts to avoid guarantees. LES: Sign of the times. Guarantees cost money, companies don't want to stand behind guarantees and people are more and more willing to accept such deal because the urge to consume beats anything else. Guarantees are sooo last week.)

KBK 2002-10-22: I wonder if the original poster was worried about the possibility that the Wiki might be misappropriated. The The experience of MathWorld suggests that a publisher might be interested in picking up the contents, rendering them in book form, and using the copyright on the book as a lever to shut down the original site or extort money from its operators.

D. McC The "MathWorld nightmare" happened because the creator of the MathWorld website (as he admits on the above-cited web page) entered into a contract with some unfavorable provisions. These provisions could be, and he says they were, abused by the publisher of a book containing some of the contents of the website. Apparently the contract allowed the publisher to demand that some content be removed from the website on the supposition that, if people couldn't get the content from the website, they would then have to buy the book to get the content.

When you write an original work, short or long, in any tangible form (including the contents of a web page), you are automatically the copyright holder. You can then contract various rights in the copyright "bundle of rights" away or give them away, but a publisher can't legally take them from you without your explicit or implicit consent. If you release a work into the public domain, other people get the right to copy and distribute it, etc.--but not the exclusive right to do so. Something like the MathWorld disaster is legally possible only if you (1) retain the copyright and (2) enter into a contract containing unfavorable provisions, which can be used to restrict access to your copyrighted work in ways you don't want. (If you want more details, you'll have to get them from a copyright lawyer such as Ivan Hoffman <http://www.ivanhoffman.com>.)

As for the contents of the Wiki, my best guess is that they're in the public domain since it's understood that anyone can copy or modify them freely--but, if you need actual legal advice rather than just my best guess, be sure to get the advice!

LV: Actually, jcw was responding to a request from an author to include the Wikit on a CD attached to an upcoming Tcl book. The problem is, as I understand it, that the publisher requires a clear statement of ownership and release before including material, to prevent subsequent legal problems. In this age where people sue over the silliest things, I can certainly see their concerns. Also, there's the whole "appropriate End User License Agreement" mentality of corporate America (and perhaps elsewhere).

All code marked with RS or Richard Suchenwirth is definitely free as can be - do what you wish, just don't blame me ;-)

AM: I emphatically agree with Richard on this point: any code published by me on the Wiki is freely useable, but without warrantees. I can not imagine a situation where I would publish code or text on the Wiki and not allow its usage in this way, but if this should happen, then it will be clearly stated. As I am not a lawyer, I have not much to add to the above. (Let someone with a legal background make sure that the Mathworld nightmare can not happen, though)

AK: I consider my contributions to be in the public domain.

EE: Mine as well.

MS's contribs are in the public domain too.

Jacob Levy All my contributions here are in the public domain and covered by the BSD license.

Uhhh... which is it? Public domain, or BSD license? They ain't the same.
I could not possibly care less about the legal whim wham of the wiki... I only care that some people cannot control their control reflex and will go about the wiki moving or removing the work of others, and then apologise for having upset somebody, but not make it right, because they really don't care. Just keep your f****** hands off of other folks stuff if you can't be responsible.

AK: This rant seems to be authored by Phil Ehrens.

Damn right. And all my ranting is hereby removed from the public domain, and is entirely retained by me as my own, and anyone caught using my rants for any purpose other than that specifically stated as the intended purpose of the individual rant, and as attached and signed with my 2048 bit pgp signature, will be prosecuted by me and my team of indigent legal para-professionals to the fullest extent beyond the law that the tresspasser upon my rant will tolerate.

Everybody start coding in Ruby right now, Tcl is a dead language.

So, let's see... if someone is caught using your rant for any purpose other than "that specifically stated as the intended purpose", you hereby declare that you and your thugs will criminally harrass that person "to the fullest extent beyond the law". (emphasis mine). However, you fail to state a specific intended purpose for this rant. Does this mean that anyone using your rant for ANY purpose will then become the target of your criminal harrassment?

Are we allowed to read your rant, is that an approved use? How about mocking it? Oh, and that little bit where I quoted a part of it, was that permitted? --[LeRoi] (this snideness is in the public domain.)

AK: chat excerpt about this rant ...

suchenwi: Phew.. Phil Ehrens is really mad at us - http://wiki.tcl.tk/4381 (at end)

Tomorrow: I think he needs to look in a mirror. Shouting about controlling your control reflex, when the thing that apparently has him so infuriated is that he doesn't have absolute and sole control of the location or presentation of materials that he put into the wiki.

suchenwi: Well, he knew the terms for years...

suchenwi: Hi Brett!

Tomorrow: personally, I'm disturbed by his explicit statement of intent to use any illegal means to harrass anyone who misuses his material on the wiki...

suchenwi: I wouldn't take it too serious - he has had verbally aggressive spells in the past (not as big as this one, though), but what could he do?

:bschwarz hello...just caught up...

bschwarz: He's not really serious, is he (Phil)?

aku: I did see some changes to wiki where he apparently removed his material

suchenwi: I doubt it.

Tomorrow: what can he do? I know not, nor care. What can WE do? I think that the edit page, and footnote page, ought to contain a warning that use of material posted into the wiki cannot be restricted, and Phil should be told that if he's declaring his material unusable, he'd be better off removing it all from the wiki /NOW/ please.

aku: Not that it matters to much, the page history still contains the removed text and code

suchenwi: Lokks like he is deeply frustrated with Tcl - but I wonder whether he'll get happier with Ruby...

Tomorrow: because if he puts something in the wiki that we can't use, anyone reading is is "contaminated" by his "intellectual property".. (refer to the term "clean room implementation")

Tomorrow: is he frustrated with Tcl, or with the people?

aku: Is he, or is that just part of the rant, as sarcasm ?

aku: I certainly cannot tell the difference

suchenwi: For how he wrote some time ago, see http://wiki.tcl.tk/PSE (which he forgot to delete)

aku: I wonder, should I copy this chat to the wiki, under the rant ?

suchenwi: It is certainly topical

aku: Not quite, his wiki home page is still there too, but he removed all code links ... ohm, and it now has the ruby reference too

aku: Yes, definitely.

Tomorrow: if you like. I, for one, hereby put everything I say in the chat into public domain...

aku: Thanks

aku: Ok, will do this now

So, the wiki should have a disclaimer at the top: Don't spend too much time or effort on anything that you put here, because it will be claimed via copyright by the first commercial entity that identifies it's utility and removed from this site.

Is that a fact? Tell us, please, which commercial entity claimed via copyright anything that you put here? And what did you do about it? --[LeRoi]

Ajuba Solutions claims copyright on everything from this Wiki that winds up in tcllib, smart ass. And Ajuba is owned by Interwoven.

Ajuba has not existed for over a year - as it is not a non-existing entity, it can't claim copyrights.

NEM - Looking at the license.terms that comes with tcllib, it does mention Ajuba Solutions - but I thought that company was defunct now? Anyway, they have certainly made no attempt (as far as I am aware) to remove anything from this site or claim exclusive ownership of it. Maybe the world just isn't as bad as you percieve? This site and, indeed, tcllib, are essentially Good Things, but require a certain level of mature adult collaboration. Obviously, in such a world, sometimes there are conflicts. The wiki is designed for collaborative editing, not just contribution/commenting. I do hope that the issues you have raised can be overcome, so as not to detract from this excellent resource.

Nothing ends up in tcllib unless the developer submits it for inclusion--possibly at the request of the tcllib maintainers. It's not like somebody is harvesting code posted verbatim on this Wiki and putting it into tcllib willy-nilly. To begin with, most of the actual code posted here is example code posted for tutorial purposes rather than finished application code. Also, the code I've contributed to tcllib is copyrighted by me and released under the BSD license--and last I saw, anyway, the Tcllib code still included that notice. -- WHD
 Gad, I can't believe I did not see that statement when this
 whole thing was going down.  I've got news for you, Ajuba
 did and ActiveState does harvest code posted verbatim and
 put it willy-nilly.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but not
 everyone here has a strong moral code.  Seems to go in
 direct proportion to the quality of their Tcl code, BTW.

KBK observes that for some months, the marked text above read inverse in place of direct, and that an unknown hand has recently changed it. If the original poster changed it, so be it. If anyone else did so, they should be aware that it's generally considered reprehensible to "disagree by distorting."

Perhaps someday, rather than blanket unsubstantiated claims, people will provide specific files or chunks of code to demonstrate their claims.

I see, you want somebody to lose their job to satisfy your need to get into a discussion that you have no particular interest in, is that it? Is that *policy* now? Anyone that wanders into a conversation can raise the ante to the point that somebody gets seriously hurt?

Puleeze go fish somewhere else.

KBK: The blanket license.terms mentions that the suite of files is copyright by Ajuba Solutions AND OTHER PARTIES. Each individual file bears its own copyright notice; only the terms apply to all files. There are files both in the The Tcl Core and in tcllib that bear copyright notices by other parties; some do not mention Ajuba. In any case, the license assigns an irrevocable grant of rights that I find acceptable. I've attached it to files (1) to avoid litigation - the license is void if you sue me (anything free comes with no guarantee) and (2) to make sure that I retain shop rights (you can't claim it as yours and keep me from using it). Ajuba's assigns DON'T own copyright on anything that I've released that way. And nobody that's released code under that license agreement can subsequently turn around and void it (well, maybe if they can prove that it was released fraudulently or something...).

I'm more worried about misappropriation of the pages that DON'T have copyright notices. Someone copies a bunch of pages for a publisher to put on a CD-ROM bound in a book, the publisher gets bought out, the new publisher decides they have EXCLUSIVE rights, and we authors and jcw don't have the resources to fight it out.

Somehow all the files where my code wound up have the Ajuba copyright and nobody else's. The net effect is that code that I produced acquired legal baggage without my consent, and that the nature of that baggage means that I would now be required to litigate to assert even my authorship, let alone ownership. I have no will to assert any claim because, frankly, I can crank out code at an alarming rate and can pretty much always come up with something better.

It is simply that I find it an insult when a commercial company asserts a right of ownership over my code, either explicit as in the case of Ajuba, or implicit in the case of removing code from a public wiki and placing it into one under the direct control of a private company.

Why this is so difficult to understand is the real question here.

Frankly all this legal crap irritates me more than anything else. All this time wasted writing meaningless garbage... and it gets worse when a lawyer pops up.

LV: I believe that anytime files appear anywhere in Tcl, Tk, tcllib, etc. with a copyright/license asserted by Ajuba, Interwoven, Sun, Scriptics, Activestate, etc. without the creator's knowledge or permission that we have a real problem that needs addressed. Would the TCT approve of changing any files that the above writer would identify the files he wrote as well as his preferred licensing and either replace the current license with the preferred one, or, if the license preferred is one that isn't one the TCT is willing to use, then replace the code with their own code, licensed appropriately? Please?

Clif Flynt: The publishers I've worked with (Harcourt Brace, Morgan Kauffman) have been careful to request only "non-exclusive" rights when putting stuff on the CD-ROM. If I can't find someone to sign the paper for those rights, I'm not allowed to include it.

I agree with Kevin, if there is a statement of Terms/Conditions for the Wiki contents, it reduces the odds that the site materials can be misused/stolen.

I'm in favor of something that says the materials are copyright to the original author, and free to be modified, used, distributed, but not claimed as original work by anyone else.

Regarding the "Copyright to Ajuba". That appears to me to be a piece of "standard skeleton" someone was using, and didn't update to reflect reality. A bit more concerning is that the boilerplate references the file "license.terms", which doesn't seem to be part of the tcllib distribution (I'm looking at tcllib 1.2, from an ActiveTcl distro.)

The boiler plate on the tcllib files resembles that on the init.tcl in an older distribution of Tcl. Many of us use variants on the old Tcl BSD license and header, merely changing the "University of California" to our corporate name.

I assume "license.terms" is the BSD license/terms distributed with Tcl/Tk source, but I'm not sure I could convince a judge of that.

DKF - It would be interesting to see a fight between an unemployed UK programmer who'd put pages up on the wiki, and a publisher that tried the low-down trick KBK mentions up above. Why would it be interesting? Simple. As an unemployed UK citizen, I believe the programmer would be able to get state aid for suing the publisher...

Poor UK hackers. Here in the good old u s of a, the wronged party has the opportunity to go down to a gun store, enjoy the support and commisseration of the sales staff, and walk out with a shiny new weapon of more than adequate caliber for the task at hand. Only if he is caught does he suffer the indignity of state aid.

KBK: (On the subject of who owns tcllib, rather than who owns the Wiki...)

The claim of copyright by Ajuba appears to be nothing more nor less than faulty release management. The claims of copyright by Berkeley, Sun, Scriptics, Ajuba and other parties are fine. I've never had a copyright notice removed nor abridged in code I've contributed, and you can see my copyright notice in a number of files in the Core and in Tcllib. I'm one of the "other parties" that the license agreement designates. If an original contributor is careless about putting in his claim, the release manager doesn't always catch it. And really, should that be the release manager's job? Some of the burden has to fall on the contributor.

If there are places where anyone has neglected to claim copyright, by all means point it out and we'll try to get it straightened out. But I certainly don't have time to comb the CVS logs to identify contributors and contact them. The burden will have to be on those who feel that their work may have been misappropriated.

That's right, everybody pile on in and play "chutes and ladders" with the copyright claims. Lets see... Ajuba has theirs on line 12... KBK has his on line 24... if I put mine on line 18...

Um, your offer there seems to be that you will assign copyright to the first claimant. I hope that you will assign copyright to all subsequent claimants as well, otherwise you are putting yourself into the middle of the Maelstrom.

Uhmmm, remember that the claims can be verified, at least in part, by the fact there's an audit trail in CVS.

Also, there's no problem with multiple claims - remember that the license agreement specifically allows the creation of derivative works, so there may well be multiple claimants to copyright of portions of such a derivative work.

DG: Everyone seems to be busting in, so I'll drop in too. Any source code I create and post to (or allow to be gotten from) the internet has become out of my control. I, personally, accept this and any claim I attempt to try to limit the distribution or redistribution or modification is a worthless attempt at best. Value placed on a work in source form by the author should understand that it goes by the honor system. If the value of the work intended by the author is that it should be used as-is, modified, copyied, torn to shreads, eaten by your dog, used as fireplace kindling and the right to allow the work to be used for any purpose, but that only that the original work may never lose its freedom to be used in such a manner, then I don't see how anyone is hurt in the whole affair.

Summary: If you can't give it up, don't give it out.

Well, congratulations. Another one misses the point.

DG -- Incorrect! I do get it. Nowhere shall I take away the right to someone not playing fair with any source I make available. Poohy on them. Any attempt I make to disallow the not playing fair, I feel, is wasted effort and places restrictions that can't (shouldn't?) be properly enforced. Do I start grepping the entire internet searching for my work in alternate forms and act as policing agent? Again, I would rather not place any restrictions and understand that I have done that.

The point, which everyone would, I suppose rather ignore, since it is so hard to get to the position where you might even suspect that somebody may not be playing fair, is that there are people, people who rarely turn up at the wiki, yet do turn up at the wiki, who have no qualms about taking your source code, attaching their own name to it as AUTHOR, and making it part of code that is copyrighted by corporate, for profit entities.

Now, what do I propose as the answer to this? I don't propose anything. I concur exactly with your statements, except that I also include the warning that unscrupulous persons may come and exploit your faith to their own advantage, that it has happened, and that it will always happen. And that turnabout is fair play.

So lets call this the Phil's Public License:

I relinquish all rights to limit the rights of others relative to the source code I place in the public view. I have however got the normal complement of human emotions and prejudices, and can be aggravated by the behaviour of others to the point where I will retaliate as my emotions and prejudices dictate. Please consider this statement when making claims of authorship or ownership of this code. ;^)

AK: I do remember one particular case where someone [Name withheld, irrelevant to the point I am making] complained about not being credited for code of his in tcllib. I also remembered one piece of code he had done, so I added the credit, and then asked him to identify any other pieces for me he had done and were without credit. The latter because even I don't know every piece of code in tcllib and where it came from. The answer was Leave me alone. Well. I live to serve, so I did leave him alone. But I will not accept complains from this person either anymore. If someone wishes credit for code (s)he has done I am perfectly willing to edit in the credit. But I cannot do this without help from the person in question. I am not a mind-reader. Nor am I willing to waste time with complainers who will not give me at least a modicum of support in identifying their code.

AK: This intentionally not anonymous.

KBK Phil, please, several of the tcllib and Core maintainers have offered to correct any misattributions. I'm also cool with combing through the individual copyright claims in the source files and adding the claimants' names to the parties listed in license.terms, even though I personally believe that the phrase, "and other parties" coves them. Alas, nobody can change anything in packaged releases that are already shipped, but can't you at least (privately if necessary) give us the specifics that we need to correct the errors?

I feel comfortable in stating that the entire Tcl Core Team believes that if any misattribution of contributions or infringement of intellectual property rights has been committed, we shall make every effort to correct the infringement, if made known, in the CVS HEAD, all branch tips corresponding to active releases, and all future releases based on those commit points.

Intellectual integrity is important to me as a scholar. If the TCT or the tcllib team has committed errors that give even the appearance of impropriety, I would think that courtesy demands that we be given the opportunity to correct them.

KBK [Discussion about the conference CD deleted, since the following discussion shows that the original poster does not think it germane.]

First, I never asked anywhere for any credit or recognition. I am as disturbed by the constant reiteration of my supposed plea for recognition as about anything else.

Second, I have no idea what CD you are talking about, but I am sorry to hear it is causing you trouble. Perhaps in the future you will avoid encumbering your products with legal mumbo-jumbo that you do not understand yourself.

Who is this "I" in the above paragraphs? -jcw

AK: I believe/speculate it to be Phil Ehrens, but am not sure. Anonymous is en vogue on this page.

KBK Now I'm very, very confused. Summary of my position: The anonymous poster clearly is very upset about something. Apparently, s/he believes that something that s/he posted to the Wiki was misattributed or misappropriated - possibly in tcllib - and that the individual or individuals that did so displayed a reprehensible lack of integrity. Since I'm a TCT member, and an administrator of both the Tcl/Tk core and tcllib projects at SourceForge, and the editor of last years Tcl conference proceedings (the only place I know of where the Wiki has been distributed on CD), it would appear to me that I'm in a position to correct whatever errors were made - be it by correcting attributions, updating documentation, or even removing and reimplementing the offending functionality in "clean room" fashion. Moreover, I'd believe that if the errors are as serious as the poster claims, intellectual honesty compels me to make every effort to correct them. Alas, without specifics, I'm simply left with an uncomfortable feeling that someone's accusing me of at least condoning plagiarism, if not of committing it outright.

Ro: Hey guys, haven't hung out here for a while, but I just happened by and it seems like y'all are in disarray. You need a hot dose of the Ro, and I'm here to give it to ya. Drop me a line. P.S. You can copy this msg ;p