Subject: Re: Block I AGC hardware project
From: Ronald Burkey
Date: Sun, 19 Dec 2004 11:13:41 -0600
To: Pultorak

Hi (again) John,

I wonder if it would be possible to get the source code (as opposed to the assembly listings) for your test & checkout programs?  I'd like to run them on my simulator, but I think it would be slightly easier to start from the source code than it would to start from the assembly listings.

By the way, I notice that your online materials don't address copyright or licensing questions for your software.  (Of course, you may have discussed this in the PDFs, and I may simply have been too dopey to notice.)  The implication I get from your writings is that you want to encourage people to use your materials, but without explicitly addressing copyright/licensing issues, the software can't be legally used.  (Not that most people would care, of course.  Most people assume that anything they find on the internet can be used for anything they like, even though legally this is false.)  The problem is that the default position under law is that if there is no copyright notice, then the author (yourself) holds the copyright, and nobody can legally use it without a license from you, until 75 years after you die.  But since you don't specify any licensing terms, then nobody can use it without coming to you for your explicit permission.  The same comments probably apply to the electrical schematics, but I haven't really looked at those yet.

At the risk of offering advice where none was asked, I'd suggest that you do one of the following.  Either

1)  Explicitly add comments at the top of each software source file saying something like "I, the author of this work, John Pultorak, place this work in the public domain"; or else

2)  Explicitly add copyright notices to the top of each source file, and then explicitly specify the licensing terms.  For example, your licensing terms could be "Anybody is free to use and modify this software for any purpose, as long as the copyright notice is not removed."  Or (like me) you could use the GNU General Public License (GPL); if so, you can simply cut-and-paste the copyright/licensing poo from the tops of my source files.

Sorry for the legalese, but it's the kind of question it's easy to forget about unless somebody mentions it to you, and by the time you it bites you, it's too late to do anything about it.  

Sorry for ranting,

P.S., for an example of confusion caused by not correctly addressing these issues, look at the "Terms of Use" page of the MIT website.  All of the Apollo docs reproduced there were created under U.S. government contract, and therefore cannot be copyrighted, and hence are in the public domain.  (Furthermore, the act of scanning the documents does not create a new copyright, nor did MIT scan all of the docs that are available there.)  Yet the MIT "terms of use" claims a copyright on the docs, and says that you can make one copy for your own personal use, but that's all, and certainly can't redistribute any of the docs.  Pure, confusing nonsense.