Larry Niven's Altair

Chuck Guzis cclist at
Thu Aug 20 23:22:10 CDT 2015

> Be it right or wrong to use an unlicensed copy...Even back in 1976
> MSOFT to my knowledge did not pursue legal action against end users
> for violation of its BASIC license, so why in 2015 presume MSOFT
> would start now?  To be honorable it would not hurt to send a letter
> to the Living History Museum c/o Paul Allen to ask for a hobbyist
> license but we both know that is a huge longshot. Maybe Ian King
> would have his ear.  But to what end?
> Again, I respect your opinion not looking to argue beyond this
> friendly reply.  As I said before I do have a license but it is not
> for sale..where would I get a new  copy?

Sure, I understand.  Paul Allen might get a personal kick out of it.

My experience with the world of music publishing is somewhat related, 
however.  Pretty much in the USA, if a copyright was renewed and made it 
to 1978, it has a lifetime of 95 years, until the US Congress extends 
that to 120-150 years. (The US Supreme Court has held that creating 
copyrights that never expire (i.e. copyright in perpetuity) is not 
constitutional, it has held that there is not a specific upper limit to 
copyright duration.

Nor is it necessary that one possess an actual copy of the material 
under copyright protection.  Consider Warner Bros., owner of the 
copyright to "Happy Birthday to you".    The authors of the ditty had 
both been long dead when Warner acquired the copyright--and it brings in 
about $2 million a year.  (There reportedly has been discovered a 1922 
book with the words and music, which, by copyright terms then in force, 
would render Happy Birthday to be in the public domain.)

Indeed, I've been contacted by an author for a copy of his own software 
to be licensed to another party, as he'd lost the code several years 
back. (Yes, I purchased a license way back when).

Unlike patents and trademarks, it's not necessary for the copyright 
holder to prosecute every infringement brought to his attention.  He can 
simply select the deepest pockets.

I've tried to get permission to arrange a work written in 1917, but not 
published until 1969 and been refused (and not politely).  Of course, 
the author had already been dead in 1969...


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