A copyright issue

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A copyright issue

Postby floris v » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:34 pm

There was a question on the Dutch nl forum about a copyrighted Excel macro that didn't work in Calc (PLX-DAQ DAta Acquisition tool (1.9 MB download). The OP posted the code (on a request to mail a sample) - with copyright notice. RPG moved that to the Quarantine section because he wasn't sure about allowing code with a license different from the Apache one. There was a discussion about license issues for macros but IIRC that concerned largely code submitted by the code develops themselves (it's okay to post with your own license and that will then take precedence over the forum license) while in this case somebody posts copyrighted material from somebody else. I read the http://www.openoffice.org/terms_of_use but wasn't sure about the interpretation for this case.
The (c) part of the code was

Code: Select all   Expand viewCollapse view
'*****************************************************
'*   PLX-DAQ Data Acquisition for Excel              *
'*   Copyright 2007, Parallax Inc.                   *
'*   PLX-DAQ is a trademark of Parallax, Inc.        *
'*   www.parallax.com                                *
'*****************************************************
'*   Programmed by:  Martin Hebel   January, 2007    *
'*                   martin@selmaware.com            *
'*****************************************************
'*   Modified distribution of this macro is          *
'*   not permitted.  Use of the SelmaDAQ Active-X    *
'*   control for other uses requires permission of   *
'*   SelmaWare Solutions -    www.selmaware.com      *


While posting the source code separately is not explicitly forbidden, I wonder if it's okay to do so.

And now that I'm at it, would it be a good idea to post a sticky in the macro forum about copyright issues when posting macro code that's more accessible than the present legal stuff? Like

* It's okay to post your own code with whatever license you prefer.
* It's not permitted to publish Excel macro code taken from a commercial bundle if that code has a license that doesn't explicitly permit publishing it.
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Re: A copyright issue

Postby Hagar Delest » Tue Apr 24, 2012 12:54 pm

Very interesting questions!

Since the code can be downloaded for free, I don't think there would be a problem by posting its code. But perhaps the "non-theft" of the code is not a sufficient reason. But I'm not a lawyer! So to be confirmed.

+1 for the sticky. We have had some discussion about that on the mailing list (in September 2011 about the license of the snippet posted here) but don't remember exactly the conclusion. I'll check my archives. I was under the impression that a different license would take precedence over the ALv2:
4. THINGS YOU SUBMIT TO THE SITE.
e. Other Licenses/Terms. Some Projects are governed by their own terms regarding Submissions and may require You to sign agreements (such as an Oracle Contributor Agreement) assigning and/or licensing Your rights in Your Submissions. In all such cases, and to the extent there is a conflict, the terms of those Projects and agreements take precedence over these Terms.
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Re: A copyright issue

Postby acknak » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:47 pm

As I understand it, there should be no problem with that code appearing on the site, since it still contains the original copyright notice and license terms, which apparently allow for making unmodified copies.

It should also be fine to post a few lines of copyrighted code, no matter what the license is--at least in the US, that is well-established as fair use.

However, I think we should really try to avoid such cases unless it is really necessary. The less we post such material, the less likely we are to have a problem over it. I guess that would make it a judgment of the moderators, or to at least ask for a consensus opinion.
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Re: A copyright issue

Postby floris v » Tue Apr 24, 2012 1:53 pm

In this case it was about Excel code that didn't work in Calc. Basically, the OP was asking for a porting to Calc code. I thought about it - that would mean making changes in that code, which is explicitly forbidden by the copyright clause. Or am I taking things too far here?

On a side note: is there a kind of list of "translations" of Excel to Calc (or more generally MSO BASIC to OOo BASIC) that you can use to convert Excel code to Calc code?
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Re: A copyright issue

Postby acknak » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:11 pm

floris v wrote:... that would mean making changes in that code, which is explicitly forbidden by the copyright clause. Or am I taking things too far here?...

I was just thinking about that--and I came to the same realization.

That's the problem with trying to do anything with "free verbatim copying" code: it would be allowed to post it here, but not to tweak it to work in Calc. Actually, as I understand, it would be more like a re-write, but regardless, posting the Excel macro and then posting a different version that works for Calc, even if it is drastically different, is just asking for trouble.
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Re: A copyright issue

Postby RoryOF » Tue Apr 24, 2012 2:55 pm

acknak wrote:It should also be fine to post a few lines of copyrighted code, no matter what the license is--at least in the US, that is well-established as fair use.


I am not a lawyer, but the usual working criterion in UK/Ireland is that one may quote up to about 10% of a copyrighted article for the purposes of fair use and study. This quantity should be non-contiguous blocks, relevant to one's discussion, and of course, correctly attributed to author and source (we have seen several cases of revocation of academic degrees in the last few years caused by such failure to attribute).
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Re: A copyright issue

Postby PGAGA » Tue Apr 24, 2012 4:20 pm

April 24, 2012

Part of the issue differing copyright definitions from country to country. At a recent editorial board meeting one member who publishes and edits mostly in the US was surprised at the Canadian law which favours the rights of authors.

(we have seen several cases of revocation of academic degrees in the last few years caused by such failure to attribute).


Not just an Irish problem. At the beginning of a course when I was asked which style guide to use, I always replied use the one you prefer but I should never have to ask for the source. Still my most common note in papers was Source?

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Re: A copyright issue

Postby RoryOF » Tue Apr 24, 2012 4:27 pm

PGAGA wrote:April 24, 2012

Part of the issue differing copyright definitions from country to country. At a recent editorial board meeting one member who publishes and edits mostly in the US was surprised at the Canadian law which favours the rights of authors.

RoryOF wrote:(we have seen several cases of revocation of academic degrees in the last few years caused by such failure to attribute).


Not just an Irish problem.


I was actually thinking of a German and (was it) a Polish problem in the last 18 or so months.
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