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Software released in the CR obviously has its Copyright status displayed. But what about the example code etc posted in threads - not only here, but on any other boards (like NI)?

There are a lot of very useful code snippets and packages around, but is software distributed without a license at all, actually usable without recrimination as we (I at least) have assumed in the past? Are we (technically and legally) actually able to post other peoples non-licensed code or even use it without permission of the original author (who may not be available or even known)? Should sites state that any "donated" code in forums (outside the CR) becomes public domain and they forfeit their copywrite claims or make it clear that the authors original rights are entirely preserved to clarify?

Edited by ShaunR
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I don't believe that a forum needs to so inform particular persons. Once material is posted, unless it is specifically marked as protected in some way, it is de facto, no longer protected. If a license hold (or equivalent) of some protected code posts such code, then that person is liable for that and any subsequent non-authorized use of the code.

At least that's what I understand about it.

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I don't believe that a forum needs to so inform particular persons. Once material is posted, unless it is specifically marked as protected in some way, it is de facto, no longer protected. If a license hold (or equivalent) of some protected code posts such code, then that person is liable for that and any subsequent non-authorized use of the code.

At least that's what I understand about it.

Indeed. As did I. However consider this:

In all countries where the Berne Convention standards apply, copyright is automatic, and need not be obtained through official registration with any government office. Once an idea has been reduced to tangible form, for example by securing it in a fixed medium (such as a drawing, sheet music, photograph, a videotape, or a computer file), the copyright holder is entitled to enforce his or her exclusive rights.

<snip>

In 1989, the U.S. enacted the Berne Convention Implementation Act, amending the 1976 Copyright Act to conform to most of the provisions of the Berne Convention. As a result, the use of copyright notices has become optional to claim copyright, because the Berne Convention makes copyright automatic.

[my own emphasis]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright#Obtaining_and_enforcing_copyright

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I don't believe that a forum needs to so inform particular persons. Once material is posted, unless it is specifically marked as protected in some way, it is de facto, no longer protected. If a license hold (or equivalent) of some protected code posts such code, then that person is liable for that and any subsequent non-authorized use of the code.

At least that's what I understand about it.

I could be wrong, but I seem to recall there was a post made a few years ago that stated that we are covered e.g. under some CC license by default, if we post code to LAVA?

I couldn't find that info in the forum guidelines tho.

I am sure a mod could answer this question.

In terms of NI - there is this thread here with some interesting info.

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Once material is posted, unless it is specifically marked as protected in some way, it is de facto, no longer protected.

My understanding of copyright laws in most countries is in fact the opposite: the very act of publishing material automatically grants copyrights to the author or publisher depending on context. I'm pretty sure most countries recognize placing something online as a form of publishing. Therefore an explicit statement would be required to make example code (and posts) part of the public domain, or any license for that matter.

Should sites state that any "donated" code in forums (outside the CR) becomes public domain and they forfeit their copywrite claims or make it clear that the authors original rights are entirely preserved to clarify?

I'm unclear if enforcing any such statements have legal precedent, I suspect it lies under the same legal grey area as end-user license agreements.

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Most major public sites have a license applied to uploaded code through their terms of use. See stackoverflow (section 3) and NI (under User Contributions) for examples.

I am not a lawyer, but my understanding from talking to lawyers in the US: If you use code that does not have an explicit license attached to it, you may end up owing the creators licensing fees, and/or they could restrict you from using it. This includes use in non-commercial and non-profit applications.

Overall, it's not a good area for misunderstandings, and a real legal opinion is probably needed. Especially if the admins decide to apply a license in the future... do they have to strip all attachments from the past? Do they have to track down all the authors and get permission for the new license to be applied? Does everyone need to create new accounts to agree with the new licensing?

JZ

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Here's an article that explains the difficulties, inherent in copyright laws, for even the most libertarian among us to give away our work.

Well, then, why don’t you just “make it public domain,” some then, a bit unreflectively, retort. The problem is, there is no clear and good way to do this.If you use a Creative Commons license, you are actually employing the copyright the state grants you–you are putting conditions or limitations on what others may do with your works. Even if you use the least restrictive type, “Attribution,” you are requiring others to do something to avoid being liable for copyright infringement.
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Well I'm not a lawyer.

It seems like a site has no authority to assert that donated code is public domain or any other license, unless the copyright holder (almost always the original author or in some cases her employer) has explicitly assigned the copyright to the site. It certainly could not do that retroactively, but it could make terms of use for the site which include some stipulation about the licensing of posted code. I think most sites are unwilling to do that since it's much harder legally than just saying "we have no control over what you choose to post, but copyright violations are forbidden to be posted".

Another consideration is that the USA has the "Fair Use" doctrine, which is legally vague, but which could be used to defend against using copyrighted work which was posted with the intent of it being reused.

Another consideration of copyright law is that the penalty for infringement is related to the economic damages, and I think it would be difficult for the copyright holder to claim damages if the code were posted by the author on a public web site.

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Here's an absurd scenario:

Me to LAVA: How do I do something?

LAVA to me: Like this.

Me to LAVA: Oh, thank you so much! That's just what I was looking for. :worshippy: That was fast; you folks are the best.

.

.

.

<some time later...>

Me to myself: I can't use that code, because the author has a copyright... :nono:

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Here's an absurd scenario:

Me to LAVA: How do I do something?

LAVA to me: Like this.

Me to LAVA: Oh, thank you so much! That's just what I was looking for. :worshippy: That was fast; you folks are the best.

.

.

.

<some time later...>

Me to myself: I can't use that code, because the author has a copyright... :nono:

Exactly! But I bet the latter never happens and you are in danger of the copyright holder coming-a-chasing with "Shaftya & Yermom Lawyers inc" :P

But how many times have people posted someone elses code in the vein of "I found this by joe bloggs to be really useful and will solve your problem".

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Actually, I was planning my retirement based on suing all the LAVA users, but then I found out that all my work is "work for hire" and owned by NI, so that plan's no good. :-)

> It seems like a site has no authority to assert that

> donated code is public domain or any other license,

It does if you agree to the site's terms of use when you created your account, which you do with NI.com.

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> It seems like a site has no authority to assert that

> donated code is public domain or any other license,

It does if you agree to the site's terms of use when you created your account, which you do with NI.com.

Right, I think I said as much, albeit a lot less clearly.

The real issue is that ni.com can't really prevent you from posting infringing code. It would be a violation and I'm sure they would take it down if duly notified by the copyright owner, but in the meantime if someone else downloaded the offending code and reused it, they could still be liable to the copyright holder.

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Right, I think I said as much, albeit a lot less clearly.

The real issue is that ni.com can't really prevent you from posting infringing code. It would be a violation and I'm sure they would take it down if duly notified by the copyright owner, but in the meantime if someone else downloaded the offending code and reused it, they could still be liable to the copyright holder.

Other sites include a clause that if you post something that you don't have the right to post, part of the content of the terms of use says you agree to serve as legal shield for anyone else who gets caught by your goof. I don't know if ni.com includes something like that.
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Software released... ...But what about the example code etc posted in threads - not only here, but on any other boards (like NI)?

This thread is slightly depressing because the whole reason the community exists (IMHO) is to share ideas/issues/code relating to LabVIEW.

E.g. If I post code (to a thread) on LAVA (or NI or wherever) I don't really care about people copying it - this point is to share.

I also want to take other people's posted code and use it if they e.g. present a solution to a problem I am having etc...

In both transactions I do not care or can be bothered with Attribution.

However, if code is posted in the LAVA-CR then yes, it should be licensed (and has to be as per LAVA-CR rules) - so that is a different case.

Either way, if there was a license then it would be respected and followed.

Regarding licensing I did do some digging and came up with this:

CC0 is a license designed for posting in the public domain (and therefore waiving your rights) and compatible with software.

CC0 is compatible with many software licenses

88x31.png

This creates Non-Copylefted Free Software which, if there was a default on LAVA (??) I would vote for CC0.

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jgcode: That's nice, but the main thrust of the discussion is how do you *certify* that code posted is legally allowed to be posted as CC0 (or any other sharing license)? Unless I can certify the chain of intellectual property (like the chain of evidence in police work) OR I have a legal shield at some point in the chain, I can't use something posted to LAVA in work I do for NI regardless of the licensing that LAVA defaults to. There are some users that I know well enough to believe them when they post something and claim it is their own work and I'm free to use it, but I know very few users that well, and the graph of "users who know other users well enough to trust the code chain of IP" is generally quite sparse. A community site like can never be as reusable as you would like without that certification on every upload, not just the highly scrubbed CR.

Edited by Aristos Queue
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A community site like can never be as reusable as you would like without that certification on every upload, not just the highly scrubbed CR.

Well if we have identified that that is what we need to do (certify every upload), then we should start doing it.

Maybe this could be made easier for the code uploader:

  • With an option when posting in the forum, or
  • A tool to add it to a VI before it is posted (I would be happy to make one)

?

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Well if we have identified that that is what we need to do (certify every upload), then we should start doing it.

Maybe this could be made easier for the code uploader:

  • With an option when posting in the forum, or
  • A tool to add it to a VI before it is posted (I would be happy to make one)

?

I think that would be a pain. It should be sufficient that they have to check a checkbox that they agree to the sites T&Cs for software uploads (of course, the T&Cs have to exist ;p ).

The fact is that stopping it all is neigh on impossible (thinking about posting other peoples code). It's just the "arse covering" for Lavag that's important since it will be the first in line for the lawsuits if you do get a shirty uploader.

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I think that would be a pain. It should be sufficient that they have to check a checkbox that they agree to the sites T&Cs for software uploads (of course, the T&Cs have to exist ;p ).

That's kinda what my first dot point said. But it would have to be on a code by code basis - not a blanket.

The fact is that stopping it all is neigh on impossible (thinking about posting other peoples code). It's just the "arse covering" for Lavag that's important since it will be the first in line for the lawsuits if you do get a shirty uploader.

It's not just that. I like the etiquette involved, and knowing that I am free to do what I want with it.

Examples I provide here or on the dark side are usually created from scratch.

Maybe a LAVAG template VI with the appropriate verbage would be appropriate? Create VI from template, upload with (choose your method).

A tool to apply the license onto an existing VI would still cover this case but there is no reason we couldn't do both (and the user chooses what is appropriate for their use case).

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Shaun, I think LAVA would be in the clear under the safe harbor provisions of DMCA. Now, if SOPA passes, LAVA would be screwed, so everyone call your reps and senators and tell them to stop that trainwreck. But assuming sanity prevails, it would only be the LAVA users who download the code and use it that would be open to lawsuit threat.

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If I understand correctly there is no ambiguity on copyright. The creator of the work automatically owns the copyright. The murkyness is in licensing. If I create an original work and post it to the NI forums I own the copyright and grant a perpetual license to NI that allows them to do what they like with my copyrighted work. My only compensation is usage of their site. That seems simple enough.

Where it gets murky is when someone uploads something they didn't own the copyright to.

What if I upload an example to the forums that uses an open source toolkit like OpenG? Surely it is OK to distribute OpenG code but NI cannot violate the BSD license. That example is too easy. What if it is licensed under something more restrictive that allows distribution such as the GPL?

No wonder lawyers always win.

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Shaun, I think LAVA would be in the clear under the safe harbor provisions of DMCA. Now, if SOPA passes, LAVA would be screwed, so everyone call your reps and senators and tell them to stop that trainwreck. But assuming sanity prevails, it would only be the LAVA users who download the code and use it that would be open to lawsuit threat.

Well. I'm no expert on US law (nor care much about it) but to qualify for safe harbour policies in most countries, they require some sort of condemnation and clear statements that it will not be tolerated (this is what the T&Cs are for).

If I create an original work and post it to the NI forums I own the copyright and grant a perpetual license to NI that allows them to do what they like with my copyrighted work.

Nope. They can't do what they like with it. Their T&Cs only allow them to admonish distribution. You are not granting any license, that requires a document.

Edited by ShaunR
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Now, if SOPA passes, LAVA would be screwed, so everyone call your reps and senators and tell them to stop that trainwreck. But assuming sanity prevails, it would only be the LAVA users who download the code and use it that would be open to lawsuit threat.

I for one, have absolute faith that insanity will prevail.

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