Is Open Source Without Copyright An Oxymoron?
“Countries whose lack of functional copyright law has jeopardized their membership in WIPO have touted open source as the inexpensive alternative that will allow them to comply with copyright while living within their means. Yet free software doesn’t come free — it has strings attached: the strings of copyleft, strings being pulled via a license written with a strong U.S. copyright enforcement landscape in mind.
“The bottom line is that free software lives and dies by the sword of copyright law — and the sword outside the U.S. and Europe is not very sharp. Enforcing free software licenses in the U.S. is hard enough. We all know that noncompliance is rampant in the U.S., though this is due less to defiance or malfeasance than to inattention, poor record keeping, or suspecting that some of the more opaque licenses were actually written by Chinese students who learned English from an official cultural-revolution-era phrasebook.
“So, who will enforce the GPL in India? Or in China? Or in Russia? In lieu of enforcement, do we really expect voluntary compliance in nations where copyright law is a nod and a wink?”
Heather Meeker. Only in America? Copyright Law Key to Global Free Software Model. TechNewsworld. May 16, 2006.
CopyCense™: K. Matthew Dames on the law, business, and technology of digital content. A business venture of Seso Digital LLC.