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You've Heard of a Copyright, But How About a Copyleft?

No, this is not a liberal vs. conservative thing, although you might be tempted to think so when considering the terms of each. A copyright, as you know, is legal protection against unauthorized usage or obvious modification of original works, something a right-winger would like because it represents a right to private property. A copyleft, on the other hand, is a left-winger's dream because it permits free distribution of original works with the only restriction being that it and/or derivative works also be declared copyleft material. That explains why evil capitalist companies like IBM copyright and patent everything it creates, and why liberal-dominated companies like Google, Apple, and Facebook allow everything they create to be freely copied. Oh, wait, no they don't - that 'village' concept only applies to everyone else.

I have seen the copyleft logo in a few places when searching for freeware and shareware software and though maybe it was just someone lampooning copyright protection, but upon further research I learn it is a very real form of protection for original works. Here is the distinction, in a nutshell (per Wikipedia entries):

Copyleft notice Tiny BASIC (Wikipedia) - RF CafeThe concept of 'copyleft,' while not explicitly called that, was first formerly encompassed in the spirit of the 1985 GNU Manifesto, where founder Richard Stallman declared, "GNU is not in the public domain. Everyone will be permitted to modify and redistribute GNU, but no distributor will be allowed to restrict its further redistribution. That is to say, proprietary modifications will not be allowed. I want to make sure that all versions of GNU remain free." Note that copyleft does not place the works in the public domain, which puts no restrictions on usage. The suspected first public declaration of copyleft was by Tiny BASIC's creator Li-Chen Wang. Copyleft, as with copyright, is subject to

Now when you spot a backwards copyright symbol, you know it is for real. As with copyrighted material, copylefted material is also subject to the "Fair Use Act."

These items are an archive of past Topical Smorgasbord items that have appeared on the RF Cafe homepage. In keeping with the "cafe" genre, these tidbits of information are truly a smorgasbord of topics. They all pertain to topics that are related to the general engineering and science theme of RF Cafe. Note: There is also a huge collection of my 'Factoids' (aka 'Kirt's Cogitations') that might interest you as well.

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Posted May 10, 2016

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