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Re: Copyright of digital keys (fwd)
----- Forwarded message from Petro -----
Date: Wed, 5 Jan 2000 22:41:20 -0800
From: Petro <[email protected]>
Subject: CDR: Re: Copyright of digital keys
First of all, I don't think you can *copyright* a physical
device. I think copyright is reserved for things *like* writing,
videotapes, etc. Programs come into this because they are seen as
analogs to writing.
[ The design, not the device. Poor wording on my part, sorry. This is
getting to a part of copyright law that makes my head hurt because
it does nothing except complicate life near as I can tell.
But to your point, what they are reseved for is not the writing or
videotapes but rather their contents. The IP they carry if you will.
They are protected because they are the carrier of the IP, if this
weren't so there wouldn't be any way to define illegal copies. It's
IP that the arrangement (the code if you will) of that phsyical
instantiation represent that is protected. The fact that certain letters
follow other letters. Now if copright will protect this arrangement of
bits, instantiated as aluminum and plastic for example, then why
won't this cover another arrangement of bits of this same aluminum and
plastic that represent somebody elses IP? We all agree, I think, that it
is the IP and not the aluminum and plastic we're protecting. Is there
suddenly different classes of IP? Where is this in the copyright law?
Question: How long does a song have to be to be copyrightable? ]
Second point (and only semi-related to the first) There are
certain IP like things that cannot be "copyrighted". Typefaces cannot
be copyrighted. The *names* can be copyrighted (as a
description/label of the typeface), but the actual *form* of the
glyphs cannot. That would lead me to believe that the shape of the
key cannot be copyrighted either.
[ Which raises an interesting point about copyright. And one of the
reasons I don't like it.
But the key isn't stand alone like a font, it is an integral part of a
design. A key without a lock, or vice a versa is only funnily twisted
bits of metal. There must be IP to drive them.
And how long does a name have to be before it is copyrighted? Per
somebodies allegation (that started this supposition) you can't
copyright short strings of text and such. How does the distinction
get blurred with fonts? Why is it I can't copright "Bill" but if
I attach it to a font I all of a sudden can, thought as you point
out the font that it points to is itself not protected? "Bill isn't
copyrightable, the font isn't coprightable, put them together and
suddenly the sting "Bill" is copyrightable. So this keeps somebody
from making their own font and calling it "Bill" but doesnt' keep
them from taking my font and calling it "Ted". And the artistic
shape of the font is what gives it worth, is completely unprotected.
It doesn't protect anything in this context, except the income of
lawyers that is.
Let's look at choreography, as the instantiation of a IP that is.
If one develops a dance and doesn't annotate it then it isn't
protected. But if you annotate it then performance of that dance
is protected. The same for music, it isn't just the sheet music itself
but the actual performance, the physical instantiation of the song
Is it that people are involved in the instantiation? I certainly can't
find any indication of this. Yet, unless a person is involved in the
actual instantiation it looks like copyright law doesn't protect
instantiation. Does this mean that if I take a normaly
non-copyrightable thing and involve a person in its operation I can
all of a sudden copyright it? That certainly isn't any sort of IP
that I recognize.
So the situation is the design of my lock and key is protected by
copyright while it is on paper (or equivalent medium). The actual safe
w/ the lock installed isn't protectd itself by copyright, as you point
out it's a thing and not IP per se. You can't copy my designs without
my permission but you could buy a safe and take it apart to
reverse-engineer the design. You could then produce your exact copy and
its design, though not it's instantiation, would then be protected as
So how is it that I can draw a design of a lock and it's protected.
But if somebody actualy performs that design it isn't? Unlike say
music where both the design and performance are protected.
If the performance/instantiation hangs around for a while then it isn't
protected, but if it's transient it is protected
Is copyright actualy protecting the process of one person learning how
to do something another person knows how to do already (e.g. play the
song or build the safe) and the actual doing thereof?
This question was the reason behind my request for pointers to any
case law regarding reverse engineering of new engine designs or
related issues. I was trying to find a case where this distinction
was at issue. ]
[ text deleted ]
----- End of forwarded message from Petro -----
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