Copyleft Codified


After reading yet another round of controversy on Slashdot about copyright assignments, the GPL, FSF as the white knight, the possibility that the FSF may someday be to broke to defend the GPL or be paranoid/tainted/etc. the following idea struck me:

What if we work as a group, with our elected representatives, and get some variation of the ideas in the GPL enacted in 'a real law', viz. a Federal law drafted by the (United States) legislature and signed into law by the President. We would have to work with a Senate & a House committee to draft extensions to/provisions on the US. Copyright code that implement broad parts of the ideas behind the GPL.

After all, the industry got UCITA and the DMCA, why can't we get our own version of things, the way we'd like it to be, on the books? In the same way that there are federal laws that provide for patents and copyrights, shouldn't we have a law that protects Copyleft? The ideas in, and the protections granted by the GPL license are broader and more transcending than those in any other copyright/patent law that has been recently enacted. The principles are certainly more important and more universal than anything in the UCITA or the DMCA.

Imagine ... being able to 'register a Copyleft' with the US Patent and Trademark office. Imagine local, state & federal authorities, judges, instigators, district attorneys, etc. who help investigate criminal acts, such as the violation of the GPL, who help 'uphold the law' and chase down those GPL-violating criminals. Law school students who might specialize in this field ...

This might be a good bit more than most folks on this mailing list want to imagine, but I think its an idea whose time is coming.

Linas Vepstas
May 2000