Re: On illegal software in an academic assignment ...

Subject: Re: On illegal software in an academic assignment ...
From: Owen Green (
Date: Mon Nov 14 2005 - 04:22:09 EST

Kevin Austin wrote:
> The pen will not transpose my tune up a third, Finale will.

Both require the intervention of your brain to varying extents.

> I think they have used the model drawn from literature. I own a copy (or
> three) of Ulysses, but I do not own Ulysses. The copyright remains with
> the creator or their designate.

Wouldn't Ulysses be public domain now that Joyce has now been dead for
>50 years? So in a way you /do/ own it! :) Point taken, however, except
that the protocol for copyright of texts is standard and established
(whatever its merits or lack of) - Penguin aren't able to turn up at
your door and inform you that they've withdrawn your 'license' to read
_your_ book (viz. the object). Not so with software, where vendors can
and do put the most ludicrous things in EULAs safe in the knowledge that
people don't read them.

>> Where, in the case of software, do the boundaries lie?
> This is a basic question to be answered by parties with a "stake" in the
> business.

In the context of how a piece of software makes an intellectual
contribution to its users work? More a question for the university,
surely (this was in the context of plagarism, or not, remember)

>> The University asks that work which is not the student's be credited.
> The same happens in University research.

You wrote both those lines! In reply to the first I wrote:

> Which it may well be, independent of the means by which the credited
> work was obtained. "The code for this project was completed in
> MaX/MSP" still means the same regardless of how that copy was
> obtained.
> Similarly, if one has a copy of a paper that is a second-gen
> photocopy, which breaks most of the copyright terms we're expected to
> sign here, and you cite it properly etc, would an institution be
> justified in penalising the student for having an illegal copy? Would
> that have become plagarism somehow?

> Universities are starting to ask faculty to relinquish
> 'owners'' rights for all work done in the University. A bit like working
> for an advertising or multi-national drug company.

Or software companies - ah the happy memories of laughing at my
management as they tried to pursuade me to allow them to change my
contract to give them rights to my every thought or deed (including
contributions to OSS outside work). It's a vile notion that should be
reistsed with vigour by all concerned.

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