A call for open source DTDs

John Cowan cowan at locke.ccil.org
Thu Oct 15 20:28:48 BST 1998

Scott Vanderbilt wrote:

> In the US, when determining whether a work is coprightable matter, the
> amount of effort expended in creating a document is not really the issue.
> Even if it took ten person-years to create a DTD, if there was only one way
> to articulate the underlying schema, it's not going to have copyright
> protection against anything other than an incontrovertibly verbatim copy.

That's not my understanding of form-content merger, though it is close.
In U.S. law, if there is *only one sensible way* of expressing something,
then that expression is inherently uncopyrightable.  If I prepare a list
of the towns in New York State in alphabetical order, it does not matter
how many others have done the same, or even if I copied from their work.
The list is simply too trivial to meet even the relaxed standard of
"originality" which copyright law applies.

> Which, in my opinion, is a sensible result.

I agree.

> Now, as to whether a particular schema can be represented by multiple DTDs
> which are not substantially the same, that is an issue of fact, and as
> such, is fodder for the Hundred Years Thread, which I respectfully decline
> to initiate. <g>

Well, I will squelch the thread using a counterexample.  IBTWSH
is by intention an expression of the same schema as (part of) HTML 4.0.
However, it is an independently derived work, which I wrote based on
my *understanding* of HTML 4.0.  If I had simply copied the W3C
version and deleted everything which I didn't wish to include in my
subset, it would be a derivative work, but I didn't do that.

I did, of course, verify (by hand) IBTWSH against HTML 4.0 to
make sure it was a true subset, but that does not interfere with
its copyright status, any more than verifying one dictionary against
another does so, as long as portions of the verifying dictionary
do not find their way into the verified dictionary.

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)

xml-dev: A list for W3C XML Developers. To post, mailto:xml-dev at ic.ac.uk
Archived as: http://www.lists.ic.ac.uk/hypermail/xml-dev/
To (un)subscribe, mailto:majordomo at ic.ac.uk the following message;
(un)subscribe xml-dev
To subscribe to the digests, mailto:majordomo at ic.ac.uk the following message;
subscribe xml-dev-digest
List coordinator, Henry Rzepa (mailto:rzepa at ic.ac.uk)

More information about the Xml-dev mailing list