The Python Papers Edition One

Maurice LING mauriceling at
Sat Nov 25 08:18:30 CET 2006

Jerry Hill wrote:
> On 11/25/06, Jerry Hill <malaclypse2 at> wrote:
>> On 23 Nov 2006 15:09:11 -0800, tleeuwenburg at
>> <tleeuwenburg at> wrote:
>> > Yes, it's true that you can't resell copies of The Python Papers for
>> > personal profits, but you may derive from it, reproduce and propagate
>> > it. You're quite right to point it out.
>> My problem with this is that I can't use anything in your publication
>> when working on commercial software.  If I were to derive code from
>> something in the Python Papers, my understanding is that I would be
>> obligated to release it under a Creative Commons license.  In fact,
>> even if all I do is read an article and then incorporate concepts from
>> it in my code, my understanding is that I may be creating a derivative
>> work.
>> Since the code that I write for work belongs to my employer, and may
>> someday be sold, I need to be careful about the licensing issues. They
>> might not be very happy with me if I wrote software for them that
>> ended up being encumbered with a license they didn't like.  I don't
>> think there's much of a problem with Issue 1, since I don't think I'd
>> end up copying the code in the 'Python Coding Idioms' article, and
>> MontyLingua is GPL software and thus has its own licensing issues for
>> commercial software.  Still, if there was a useful article on, say,
>> database or web interfaces, I would have to avoid it.  If I have to
>> avoid using any articles that might actually be useful in my
>> professional life, I feel like I should probably just avoid the
>> journal all together.  If I've misrepresented the relevant copyright
>> issues, I'd be happy for someone to correct me.

As Steven mentioned -- anything you can read is copyrighted. The 
difference is whether is the copyright effective or enforceable. What do 
I mean by this? Without copyright, there will not be plagarism. Ask 
yourself this question, can you copy William Shakespeare's MacBeth and 
submit it as a literary work for a Master of Literary Arts degree? I 
believe the candidate will be expelled from university. William 
Shakespeare's MacBeth is still copyrighted work but not "enforceable" 
because it is pre-1900's work and the author had been dead for more than 
50 years. Similarly, works in public domain are still copyrighted -- 
academically, using work in public domain without attribution (giving 
credits in the form of citations) is still plagarism.

This means that everything you had read since the days of "ABC..." are 
copyrighted. That includes all codes you've seen in colleges etc etc. I 
am afraid that to avoid copyright altogether, as far as your work is 
concerned, you might have to seclude yourself in some pacific islands 
and re-discover mathematics and computer science all over again from 1 + 
1 = 2, and 2 + 1 = 3, and so on. Even so, patents will still get you at 
the end.

In copyright, there is fair use. There is no way of avoiding it totally 
-- how many ways are there to write a list comprehension?

Copyright just says attribute credits when you use someone else's work 
within the limits of fair use; otherwise you might have to pay for it in 
the form of a licence, subject to the copyright owner. I believe you've 
done all these in college when writing your essays.

I believe in most cases, a simple declaration like "This function is a 
re-implementation (or adaptation) of that found in <some periodical's 
title, year, and page number>" will suffice.

Have you not read "The Python Cookbook", in book form or from the 
website? How do you attribute credits when you are using the codes?


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