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The following is an archive of a post made to our 'vox-tech mailing list' by one of its subscribers.

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Re: [vox-tech] Copyright and license
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Re: [vox-tech] Copyright and license



Peter Jay Salzman wrote:

Suppose someone writes a useful document. They put a copyright notice onto
the document, but no license. They put it on the web, for free, and it
stays there for years. At some point I download a copy of that document.
The *intention* (although not explicitly stated) is for people to download
the document and play around with it (the document in question is an OpenGL
programming tutorial).

Now suppose they decide to make money off the document, so they set up a
commerce site and charge for access to that document.

Am I allowed to give my copy of the document, from when it was freely
available off the web, to somebody?

Am I now obligated to delete the document off my hard drive?

Obviously, IANAL, but...

To the latter question: /no/. If it was freely given, without stipulations, you needn't worry about it.

As to the former; this is a little tricky. The copy you currently own is validly yours under whatever license (explicit or implicit) through which you originally obtained it. The same thing applies to software: if someone distributes GPL code, and then at some point stops distributing it under GPL but rather through some other (proprietary, say) license: he has a right to do that. But you also continue to have the right to use, modify, sell or distribute the GPL'd version you obtained.

Of course, in this case, there is no explicit license, and while it seems clear that there is an implicit license for your copy, the right to redistribute it may not have been implied. If you can hunt through archives and find reason (from the author's writings) to believe this, you may be safe. Probably the very best practice would be to obtain *explicit* permission from the author to redistribute your copy. However, note that even if he explicitly tells you to throw out your copy, I don't believe that constitutes a legal obligation to do so, given that it was given to you without stipulation or restriction.

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