[ZDP] OpenContent issues

Jimmie Houchin jhouchin@texoma.net
Tue, 18 May 1999 08:08:34 -0500

The legal issues of copyright can be complex.
From what I understand of copyright laws, which is not great, these are
some issues here.

Multiple copyright laws. The content authors here are from all over the
world. Each nation has it's own laws and then there are international
copyright laws.

From my understanding of U.S. and International copyright laws, the default
is to give copyright to the author of the content regardless of whether
copyright is explicitly stated.

I do not know if setting up ZDPs default as contrary to the general default
would be legally binding unless explicitly agreed to be each individual

Most of what transpires here is correspondence, letters, messages. This is
a whole 'nother category of copyright law.

Some thoughts about solutions.

Alot of what happens is someone comes up with some documentation and posts
it to the list. From that point it is read modified, corrected, etc. by
alot of people. If the documents creator would initially place this
document under "Open Content" just like "Open Source" and "GPL" have their
licenses clearly placed in the beginning of the document, then all future
collaborators would be understand the legal position of the document. This
would explicitly state a documents license and hopefully avoid any of the
above issues.

For the purpose of the ZDP, we should adopt or create an "Open Content"
license which the community uses as it's basis.

We could then begin a document with a simple line or two like this.

"Open Content License v.1.0
This document is release under the Open Content License.
The license may be downloaded from or view at http://www..."

Or maybe simply for the purposes of correspondence within this group a
simple line like this.

"Open Content"

The final version can contain full disclosure.

Once a document begins it's life OC then it is irrevocably established as
such. If a document begins it's life any other way it is copyright of the
author until the author explicitly changes it.

My 2 centavos

Jimmie Houchin

At 10:34 AM +0200 5/18/99, Martijn Faassen wrote:
>David Ascher wrote:
>> On Mon, 17 May 1999, Michel Pelletier wrote:
>[snip discussion on Zope book]
>Woah, let's all calm down for a bit -- the ZDP is writing a lot, but
>we're not anywhere close to a publishable book, and it's even
>questionable that's a goal at all; though of course I'm not excluding
>anything here, which I why I made this maniacal remark about
>bestsellers. Let's refrain from contacting O'Reilly right now, I
>suggest. :)
>What I do think we should do is figure out the copyright issues -- we're
>collaboratively working on documentation, and we need to figure out on
>what kind of legal structure we're basing this. Primarily we need a
>legal structure that:
>* Allows collaboration on documentation on the Internet without hassles.
>This means I should be able to edit text person B contributes to the
>ZDP, and C then edits more and adds a paragraph, without any of us
>having to go through contortions. We need to be able to focus on the
>* We'd also like collective powers to decide on what happens with this
>documentation. What we want is vaguely this:
>   * Everybody on the net can use this documentation for personal use.
>   * Anyone should be able to drop in and help with the text.
>   * If there _is_ to be a book or something like that, the ZDP people
>would like to have some say in what happens. It shouldn't be a book
>appears without at least our knowledge.
>Some other points:
>   * It may not be too big a deal if someone uses the fruits of our
>labors 'to get rich' anyway. We're not into this to get rich after
>all, we want good docs.
>   * Digicool allows us 'to get rich' by giving away Zope. We might
>     want to follow their example. :)
>   * We probably don't have to worry about these issues a lot at the
>   * What happens with externally contributed texts? It should be clear
>what is and what isn't a ZDP contribution.
>Anyway, these are the issues concerning copyright we need _some_, but at
>this point not a _lot_ of discussion about. I'm waiting for someone with
>a good idea and/or more knowledge about these matters of collaborative
>doc writing to step forward. :)
>ZDP maillist  -  ZDP@zope.org