Public Domain Doomed (Mouse != World)

Russell Turpin
Wed, 15 Jan 2003 22:35:59 +0000

Eirikur Hallgrimsson:
>Even under the old system "Author's Lifetime" meant that anything technical 
>or scientific was
>certainly useless for work in the field

Au contraire. Except for software, the scientific
value of technical writing is its abstract content,
i.e., the ideas it contains. Copyright does NOT
protect these at all. So you are free to implement
Boyer & Moore's fast string search, regardless of
any copyright on their paper, from which you learn
the algorithm. Perhaps you could not copy the code
they put into the paper, but would have to rewrite
it. Copyright protects EXPRESSION. But the idea
itself, in this case, the algorithm, has no
copyright protection whatsoever. The same is true
for the content of all scientific and technical

Some kinds of ideas are protected by patent, but
that is an entirely different beast. It is an
important difference between copyrights and patents
that the latter can prevent you from making
something that is entirely your own work, save the
idea that went into it, while the former protects
only specific expression that someone else wrote.

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