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   Re: A call for open source DTDs

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  • From: Scott Vanderbilt <lists@lumdata.com>
  • To: ht@cogsci.ed.ac.uk (Henry S. Thompson), xml-dev@ic.ac.uk
  • Date: Thu, 15 Oct 1998 08:02:08 -0700

At 1:11 PM +0100 10/15/98, Henry S. Thompson wrote:

>I beg to differ.  The effort involved in the construction of
>substantial DTDs such as those from the DocBook or TEI is a least as
>much in the articulation of the ideas in the formal schema language of
>SGML DTDs as in the original document structure ideas themselves.  As
>such, I think any unlicensed redistribution of those DTDs would be a
>clear and easily prosecuted case of copyright infringement.
>In any case, as it stands a DTD is a document, and documents are ipso
>facto copyright by their authors.  You're certainly correct that if I
>made a rational reconstruction of the DocBook or TEI DTD
>functionality, I'd be on pretty safe ground, and even if I expanded
>all the parameter entity references of e.g. the TEI under a given set
>of switch settings, I might be able to get away with redistribution of
>the result, although that's MUCH less clear.

The first thing I should point out, as was brought to my attention by John
Cowan, is, the Berne Treaty and other attempts to harmonize the laws of
various countries notwithstanding, there are still some substantial
differences between the US and elsewhere. My familiarity is with US law, so
please take that into consideration.

In the US, when determining whether a work is coprightable matter, the
amount of effort expended in creating a document is not really the issue.
Even if it took ten person-years to create a DTD, if there was only one way
to articulate the underlying schema, it's not going to have copyright
protection against anything other than an incontrovertibly verbatim copy.
Which, in my opinion, is a sensible result.

Now, as to whether a particular schema can be represented by multiple DTDs
which are not substantially the same, that is an issue of fact, and as
such, is fodder for the Hundred Years Thread, which I respectfully decline
to initiate. <g>

Scott D. Vanderbilt                               mailto:scott@lumdata.com
Luminous Dataworks
Phone: (310) 253-9918                            Custom database solutions
Fax:   (310) 842-7025                               for the World Wide Web

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