Larry Niven's Altair

Fred Cisin cisin at
Thu Aug 20 12:48:21 CDT 2015

>>> I assume all the 8K, 4K BASICs are in public domain by now.  The demo 
>>> for the kids will be the 15 minutes of paper tape, followed by READY.

>> Bad assumption.  Things that were actually registered even if there was
>> no notice, or published with a copyright notice would still be protected
>> under U.S. copyright.
On Thu, 20 Aug 2015, Paul Koning wrote:
> Depending on when.  If it was published without notice, the key question 
> is whether publication occurred before Jan 1, 1978, or after.  After, 
> notice does not matter; before, lack of notice means no copyright.
>> Has a nice understandable synopsis.
> Indeed.  Wikipedia is also useful.

But, Were the BASICs published without notice??!?
There are certainly plenty of copies with the notice
removed, and/or copied without the notice, but was
the original publication "without notice"?

And, of course, "there was no notice physically on it by the time
that I got it" is NOT the same as "published without notice",
nor is unauthorized republication without the notice.

"...assume xxx is in public domain by now" is assuming an inaccurate
short term of copyright - if it was properly copyrighted after 1963,
then copyright would not be expired yet.
(I'm not aware of any BASICs published before 1963)

So, the only hope for something published in the last half century to
be public domain now would be if it were explicitly placed in public 
domain, or were originally published without notice before 1978.

I found it amusing that for registration of copyright, I was originally 
advised to include source code, but was permitted to provide a hex dump, 
instead.   (circle where the notice is in it)
Note: registration is NOT required for copyright, but it makes action 
against infringers substantially easier, such as ones who try a defense 
such as a copy that had had notice removed.  (do some sort of checksum of 
title page!)  Even then, action can be a very expensive process if a 
letter won't suffice.
I'm not sure, but I've heard that registration can even protect if
there was accidental failure to include notice in publication.

Paul and I don't agree about whether Typography counts as "creative"
for a "derivative work".  A less disputable example would be 
illustrations.  But certainly, a derivative work does not remove
the CONTENT (without the typography) from public domain.
Thus, Project Gutenberg had some problems with distributing images
scanned from modern publishers, but text OCR'd from them is back
to the original public domain content.

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