Since it involves a third party withholding only the modifications he has made, I don't see how that could be a breach of the original copyright. After all, the modifications were not present in the original copyrighted code. They belong to the modifier.
Instead, it is failing to deliver the promised consideration, namely to make the new code (the modifications) publicly available in return for the use of the original code. Therefore it is a breach of contract, as you say.
Of course, copyright law is the basis of the ownership rights of the original software maker in his code.
So here are my two questions:
(1) Does copyright law merely create and define an ownership right, to be enforced by already-existing law concerning property, or does it have specific penalties?
(These penalties give meaning to "violation of copyright" as a specific offence distinct from simply failing to fulfill a contract.)
(2) In law (outside of copyright), when does failing to fulfill a contract, or not paying for something you're supposed to pay for, become a crime rather than a civil matter?
The world of publishing is cracking and falling about us, great porches and cornices of Atlantean masonry crashing into the sea. "Let... the wide arch / Of the ranged empire fall..." http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8WhOOmVOpY
I don't think universities are interested in prolonging the life of expensive textbooks. The faculty are too creative and independent, and very few -- maybe 1 in 1000 -- make enough money from royalties to care about that. The majority are motivated to produce their output not by money but prestige -- the Thorvalds-type energizer of status within a community because of what you contribute. The academic world has already for many years lived and embodied certain Techdirt ideals concerning the form that remuneration might take when the intellectual products themselves are given away for free.
Has Techdirt ever covered the long-standing campaign -- starting with Rob Kirby in Berkeley in the 1990s or even 1980s -- against the high prices and monopoly character of academic journal publishers? When he published a comparison price chart in the AMS Notices, it attracted a lawsuit from the named publishers for price fixing or something like that -- totally bogus and simply a violation of his freedom of speech.
The idea has been around for a long time, but the practical value of classic publishers is large and it only really cracks and crumples when there is new technology. Direct distribution is simply much easier than it was in 1995. Things are really ready to pop.
Mike, you are a great journalist and commentator, but I am afraid that both you and Mr Justice Tugendhat are mixed up. Mr Tilbrook was suing precisely because he wasn't mentioned in the article and so his name was not connected with racism in the public eye. How else can he reach his base constituency except through the media?
The US law in question only applies in the US. It just means UK actors will not get US cooperation in these libel prosecutions. They can still be pursued in the UK against UK assets of the US companies in question (ISPs, forums, search engines).
Incidentally I agree with you on the McKinnon case.
But if you believe on sovereignty grounds that McKinnon should not be extradited to the US for UK-based acts that reach into the US but are presumably crimes only in the US, then logically you should also believe that the US is not obliged to support US lawsuits against ISPs for hosting (not producing) libelous content in the US, even if the audience and victim are in the UK, and even if ISPs are liable in the UK -- because they also don't support those lawsuits when all actors are internal to the US.
The producers of the libel can still be sued in the US, just not the host.
But you shouldn't argue against retaining rights to intellectual property that is developed under a government contract. The contract says what it says, and it should be followed. If it does not sell all the rights, the legal presumption is that this is reflected in a lower contract price and that both sides benefit.
Many transactions with the government are purely commercial, and we should not encourage the great beast to abuse its dominant bargaining position in every single transaction.
For me what makes the difference in this case is that it is a public monument of national significance. Whatever you may think of war, if soldiers are to be honored at all, they must be honored in a way that is transcendent -- that establishes commonality or solidarity. There really isn't any other way to do it. They can't receive royalties.
The artist is uniquely positioned to convey this to the public -- after all, he is the artist. I don't see how he possibly can do this while suing for royalties. He damages the monument and undermines the honor of being its creator.
On the other hand, if the original contract was simply clear in giving him contingencies on future income as part of his compensation, then -- as long it was not exorbitant, and that could easily cover figures like 50,000 or 100,000, couldn't it -- no-one would have objected or even noticed.
What is really shaking people is the public display of cupidity, not the payment or the rights. In that sense this article is really not about property rights at all, but other kinds of obligations.
This brings me to the question that is bothering others-- since when do building designers or their customers even *have* intellectual property rights in photographs of their buildings? It seems that these rights are either ignored 99% of the time or nonexistent. Am I missing some obvious cases where such rights either are supported in law or should be?
I can't tell what this posting is about. I see the letters on the page quite crisply, and I can also see the URL at the top, but something is all fuzzy. There is an annoying buzz, or a whirr, but I can't tell where it is coming from. It seems to be inside me. Help !