A call for open source DTDs

John Cowan cowan at locke.ccil.org
Thu Oct 15 20:17:07 BST 1998

Henry S. Thompson wrote:

> In any case, as it stands a DTD is a document, and documents are ipso
> facto copyright by their authors.  You're certainly correct that if I
> made a rational reconstruction of the DocBook or TEI DTD
> functionality, I'd be on pretty safe ground,

You would.

> and even if I expanded
> all the parameter entity references of e.g. the TEI under a given set
> of switch settings, I might be able to get away with redistribution of
> the result, although that's MUCH less clear.

No, you would not, except as provided by some copyright license with
TEI's copyright owners.  As I posted before, the right to make
derivative works is a component part of the bundle of rights that
the copyright owner has.
> The parallel with QuickSort is illuminating.  If I redistribute YOUR
> awk implementation of QuickSort, with our without relabling some of
> the variables, I've violated your copyright.  If I code QuickSort
> myself in perl, I'm just fine.

Correct.  However, if the algorithm were patented (which it is not),
you would have other problems.

> If I use a2p on your source and
> redistribute the results, the lawyers will have a field day.

It's only the other fella's lawyers who will have a field day.
Your lawyer will tell you to settle, and quick.  Running a2p
over a document is just like translating it into French --- you
can't distribute the result without a license.

BTW, these are all international (i.e. Berne convention) rules,
not local law.
John Cowan	http://www.ccil.org/~cowan		cowan at ccil.org
	You tollerday donsk?  N.  You tolkatiff scowegian?  Nn.
	You spigotty anglease?  Nnn.  You phonio saxo?  Nnnn.
		Clear all so!  'Tis a Jute.... (Finnegans Wake 16.5)

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