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From: David Abrahams (dave_at_[hidden])
Date: 2004-02-16 16:38:15

Diane, I want to clarify something you may have missed: the point in
question does not concern the Boost license itself, but the way in
which our source files declare the license to be applicable to them.
They do not contain a copy of the license, but instead make reference
to it in a comment, typically:

  // Copyright David Abrahams 2004. Use, modification and distribution is
  // subject to the Boost Software License, Version 1.0. (See accompanying
  // file LICENSE_1_0.txt or copy at

Diane Cabell <dcabell_at_[hidden]> writes:

> David Abrahams wrote:
>> Thanks for replying, Diane.
> (....)
>> OK, I think I understand you below, but your wording is a bit
>> confusing, so I'll ask for clarification:
>>>US copyright law only grants the author the right to control public
>>> display of the work.
>> Meaning "the right to control public display of the work is granted
>> solely to the author?"
> Meaning, anyone can privately display a work without the author's
> permission. There is no copy "right" to control private
> displays. [There may be other laws that prevent private display, and
> one of them would be the right of the patent owner to prohibit
> unauthorized "use" of his invention.]

Ugh I don't think we ever considered that "display" would be
interpreted other than to mean "display publicly". Does that mean
that in the license:

  Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person or organization
  obtaining a copy of the software and accompanying documentation covered by
  this license (the "Software") to use, reproduce, display, distribute,
  execute, and transmit the Software, and to prepare derivative works of the
  Software, and to permit third-parties to whom the Software is furnished to
  do so, all subject to the following:

"display" ought to be "display publicly"?

>>>See See 17 USC 106 at
>>><>. Yes, if the right
>>>isn't specifically granted, it is not included.
>> Therefore, the fact that a source file doesn't specifically say that
>> "display is subject to the Boost Software License" means that it isn't
>> granted at all? The OP was actually concerned that leaving out
>> "display" implicitly granted a right to do so. My understanding is
>> that it does not. Please confirm/deny.
> Right. Leaving things out does not grant any implied
> permission. However (there's always a "however"), it is not necessary
> to specifically grant a right to private display [unless there are
> patents involved].

I don't think we're concerned about private display.

>> This brings up another possible problem, though: if the license
>> grants
>> certain rights to display, but the source file comment only says that
>> "Use, modification, and distribution" are subject to the license,
>> perhaps we're failing to grant any display rights. Probably the OP
>> was right to suggest that we drop the specific mention of "use,
>> modification, and distribution" from source file comments. Even if we
>> *are* granting display rights as intended, why risk ambiguity on this
>> point?
> It does not grant them, so there is no inconsistency.

What is "it"? The license certainly does grant display rights. Are
you saying that the part of the license that grants display rights
isn't applicable to source files with the comment shown at the top of
this message?

> If, on the
> other hand, you believe that _public_ display should be a right
> granted to users

We do.

> then you should add "public display" everywhere that
> you see "use, modification and distribution."

This is what makes me think you might have missed the fact that "use,
modification and distribution" isn't in the license itself. The
suggestion is that "use, modification and distribution" be removed
from source files to avoid having to repeat all the rights named in
the license.

> (....)
>>>I'm not sure how you're using the term "file", but you can erase doubt
>>>by including it specifically as suggested above.
>> Sorry, I think I was just bringing up a linguistic technicality.
>> These are all copyrightable files. The question is whether a *thing*
>> can be subject to a license, or only actions that might be performed
>> on that thing. That's why I suggested "licensed under ... " instead
>> of "subject to ... ".
> Copyright licenses copying; patents protect operations. Since patent
> rights were only recently recognized for pure software, the line is
> not really clear in a lot of cases. Interpretation of the licenses
> isn't just limited to the linuisitics, however, but looks at the
> purpose the agreement is trying to accomplish, what people in the
> trade normally intend to happen in such situations, etc.

I'm not sure how to apply that information to our situation. My
remark about "subject to" was akin to saying "I think you're using a
noun as a verb; here's a way to phrase it that avoids grammatical

> Diane Cabell
> Clinical Program Director
> Berkman Center for Internet & Society
> Harvard Law School

Dave Abrahams
Boost Consulting

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