[lug] Google Chrome Linux "distribution"

Chris Riddoch riddochc at gmail.com
Fri Jul 10 16:40:05 MDT 2009

On Fri, Jul 10, 2009 at 1:32 PM, Zan Lynx<zlynx at acm.org> wrote:
> However, this is where I disagree and as I said in my first email, if we
> do *not* have a fair-use right to modify copyrighted works, then that
> causes a lot of ridiculous effects. So I say, by proof by absurdity (in
> other words, good law should not be absurd), that we must have a
> fair-use right to modify.
> Some of the absurd effects would be losing the right to spray paint a
> mustache on an oil painting, cut out pieces of newspapers and magazines,
> and write notes in the margins of books.

Fair use might or might not apply, depending on the particulars of the
changes, and you *really* don't want to have to rely on fair use, as
it's a legal doctrine (interpreting precedent-setting rulings) rather
than part of the statutory law defining copyright.  If the changes are
"substantial" enough, for whatever that means in a judge's head, then
you're probably okay.  The more similar it is to the original work,
the less likely you're able to get away with the fair use excuse,
particularly if you're making money doing so.  If your work is *very*
different, you're probably safe.

If you rely on fair use, you're better off writing your own code than
making a tiny patch to someone else's.  That's my interpretation of
it, anyway -- Beware using "proof by absurdity" with regard to law.
That fallacy doesn't seem to apply in some domains.

Chris Riddoch

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