UTF-8 in ZIP

Dennis E. Hamilton dennis.hamilton at acm.org
Wed Nov 3 18:47:05 CET 2010

One can only assert copyright on something for which one has acquired a[n
exclusive] copyright transfer or is copyrightable subject matter that is
ones original work (or original work obtained by hire).

So, if something is indeed in the public domain, anything that incorporates
(portions of) it does not extend its copyright over the incorporated
material, which is still in the public domain, even in the place
incorporated.  If the US government created a specification that became an
ISO specification, there is generally no copyright to transfer and the only
thing the ISO copyright would pertain to is the "original" material that was
made the wrapper on that specification content.  The copies of the US Income
Tax instructions that show up in compilations in bookstores all bear a
copyright notice, but it only extends to the compilation as such, not the
content which is a repetition of freely-available documents of the US
Government Internal Revenue Service.

There is no way to ever pre-empt the copyright (or non-copyrightable) status
of a work by its inclusion in a combined work of some sort.  The copyright
on the combined/derivative work does not extend over the material that is
obtained from the original work.

This seems to confuse open-source contributors and mash-uppers no end.
Their copyright only applies to the portions that are original to them *and*
that consist of copyrightable subject matter.  (Whether they have fair use
of the non-original parts depends on the status of those parts as
copyrightable subject matter, any license granted with respect to those
parts, and what a judge would have to say on the matter.)

Since it has come up recently, there is generally no tolerance for a claimed
copyright on the use of an API (and certainly not a programming language,
although the specification of the programming language is a different
matter).  Languages are not subject to copyright and there is a related
doctrine on "utilitarian necessity," where if there is essentially only one
way to say something (e.g., to use an API or to express something in a
programming language), saying so is not a copyright infringement.  Of
course, it is only courts that will determine whether the doctrine applies
in a dispute brought before them.

 - Dennis [who doesn't even play a lawyer on televison]

-----Original Message-----
From: sc34wg1study-bounces at vse.cz [mailto:sc34wg1study-bounces at vse.cz] On
Behalf Of robert_weir at us.ibm.com
Sent: Wednesday, November 03, 2010 08:56
To: MURATA Makoto (FAMILY Given)
Cc: sc34wg1study-bounces at vse.cz; sc34wg1study at vse.cz
Subject: Re: UTF-8 in ZIP

sc34wg1study-bounces at vse.cz wrote on 11/03/2010 10:10:39 AM:

> > What can we offer PKWARE?
> PKWARE has got world-wide acceptance of ZIP partly because 
> PKWARE claimed that ZIP is in public domain.  What we can offer is 
> more formal status of this "contract" and no challenges to this
> world-wide acceptance. 

It depends on what you think "public domain" means.  Some have suggested 
that this means that there is no copyright and that one can take the 
Application Note and make derived works from it.  But if we make an ISO 
standard of this, surely ISO will claim copyright on that, and therefore 
this hypothetical "public domain" aspect of it would be eliminated.

[ ... ]

More information about the sc34wg1study mailing list