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Re: OK to distribute autoconf.texi under the GPL too?

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: Re: OK to distribute autoconf.texi under the GPL too?
Date: Mon, 20 Dec 2004 11:23:12 -0800
User-agent: Gnus/5.1006 (Gnus v5.10.6) Emacs/21.3 (gnu/linux)

Bruce Korb <address@hidden> writes:

> "Piffle".  It is a trivial example.

Well, it doesn't really matter what you or I think is trivial: what
counts is what a federal judge would think (in the US, anyway).

Let's put it this way.  The song "Happy Birthday to You" has trivial
lyrics -- only 16 words long.  And yet those lyrics return about $2
million/year worth of royalties to AOL Time Warner and the Hill
Foundation.  See "Happy Birthday, We'll Sue"

Now, I don't for a moment think the Autoconf examples have the same
artistic merit and revenue potential as that immortal 16-word poem.
But it's quite clear that the Autoconf manual's longer examples are
nevertheless protected by copyright, and if the FSF continues to
publish these examples solely under the GNU FDL, this will inhibit
honest programmers who try to abide by the law, however silly the law
happens to be.

> There would be no way to assert a copyright claim.

Sure there would, for the longer examples.  If you don't believe me,
ask Veritas's copyright counsel.

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