synaptics driver MIT license approach

Hal V. Engel hvengel at
Tue May 8 13:22:36 PDT 2007

On Tuesday 08 May 2007 12:58, Daniel Stone wrote:
> On Tue, May 08, 2007 at 11:08:25AM -0700, Yan Seiner wrote:
> > Colin Guthrie wrote:
> > >Not wanting to be morbid or a harbinger of doom, but what would happen
> > >if one of the above has passed away? Would that stop the relicense
> > >attempt for e.g. 25 years (or however long copyright is these days/in
> > >your territory of choice), or could you ask their executor of their
> > >estate? Or do you just say, "sod it they're awa' the crow road so who
> > >cares!!" and relicense anyway?!!!
> > >
> > >Just some idle thoughts from an idle mind. I'd love to see synaptics
> > >come under the Xorg wing.
> >
> > Isn't there some kind of 'quiet title' provision in the license?  Seems
> > to me that this sort of thing should be handled.  Say you attempt to
> > contact the author, his/her last known employer, post on mailing lists
> > s/he used to frequent, and if you don't get a response for say 6 months
> > the license can be changed?
> >
> > Just mulling out loud....
> No, because that's absolutely insane.
> 'We tried contacting you to relicense your GPL code to BSD, but
> couldn't, so we just put it in our proprietary app.  Cheers!'
> Copyright passes to the estate if someone dies, so you can convince the
> executioner to do as you like.  But if you simply can't find the person,
> or they don't want to talk to you -- bad luck.
> Cheers,
> Daniel

Exactly - this can be a real issue for more than just software.  I know about 
a music book that was widely used in the 1960s and 1970s when the author was 
actively supporting and selling the book.  He died in the mid 1980s after a 
protracted illness and the book went out of publication.  The last of the 
existing stock was sold out in the early 1990s.  Many individuals have 
contacted the familiy in an attempt to get the book published again and the 
family is not interested to the point where they will not even respond to 
those who try to make contact.  This in spite of the fact that many of these 
individuals are putting a significant amount of money on the table in order 
to get the book published again.  I beleive that in the US copyrights are 
good for 75 years.  So it will be the middle of this century before this book 
can be published again and by then it will likely be so obscure that it will 
never be published.  In the mean time old copies of the book sell on ebay for 
more then similar books sell for new because it is so highly regarded.

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