[mythtv-users] new YouTube plugin for MythTV

Daniel Kristjansson danielk at cuymedia.net
Wed Nov 14 00:47:46 UTC 2007

On Tue, 2007-11-13 at 17:06 -0500, Greene, David Cameron wrote:
> But, wouldn't the names to give credit be required?  Or would someone just
> need to give credit to the MythTV project v.XX ?

The GPL contains a very limited advertising clause. Basically, you
only have to preserve copyright notices and any notices disclaiming
fitness of the software for any particular purpose contained in
the original program you are forking.

Look at paragraph 2 of the GPL v2:

2. You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or any portion of
it, thus forming a work based on the Program, and copy and distribute
such modifications or work under the terms of Section 1 above, provided
that you also meet all of these conditions:

        a) You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices
        stating that you changed the files and the date of any change. 
        b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that
        in whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or
        any part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all
        third parties under the terms of this License. 
        c) If the modified program normally reads commands interactively
        when run, you must cause it, when started running for such
        interactive use in the most ordinary way, to print or display an
        announcement including an appropriate copyright notice and a
        notice that there is no warranty (or else, saying that you
        provide a warranty) and that users may redistribute the program
        under these conditions, and telling the user how to view a copy
        of this License. (Exception: if the Program itself is
        interactive but does not normally print such an announcement,
        your work based on the Program is not required to print an

IANAL -- but I'm fascinated by this stuff.

Trademarks are not covered by the GPL. If you look around you'll
notice some examples of this in action. For example CentOS is a
RedHat clone, as allowed under the GPL, but they need to replace
all RedHat trademarked images from the original because RedHat
doesn't want the clones to use them. However, as per the GPL,
RedHat copyright notices are all over the place.

The idea behind trademarks is altogether different from copyright.
Copyright gives you exclusive right to COPY a particular expression
of an idea so that you can barter this expression for things of value
to you, either immaterial (as in the case of the GPL) or material
(as in the case of a royalty contract); Trademarks give you the
exclusive USE of a particular mark so as to brand something as your
own creation.

You can make as many copies as you want of a trademark. But if you
do and you publish a copy to the world, your use of it must make clear
that it is not your trademark. But if you do use it "notoriously"
for a number of years it becomes like the cat you've kept for 10
years in a "no pets" apartment, the landlord (aka Trademark holder)
loses their right to challenge this particular class of use of the
trademark. So long as Justin keeps an eye out for what he considers
abuses and he tells those people to stop, his trademarks are sound.
The main limit on trademarks is that you can't trademark a common name
or symbol for something, and if your trademark becomes a generic word
for something you lose a lot of your trademark rights. For instance,
I can talk about tivoing some program on my MythTV box, because tivoing
has become a verb for recording on a DVR. However I can not refer to
a MythTV box as a "MythTV TiVo", because TiVo the noun still
unambiguously refers to the TiVo(R) brand of DVR's. In this case its
mostly a blessing, since if I talk about "tivoing" a program its really
free advertising for TiVo. But people fight very hard to keep their
brands from becoming a generic noun, this is why they Kimberly-Clark
refers to their disposable  handkerchiefs as "Kleenex(R) tissues" and
not just "Kleenex(R)".

Copyrights on themes are different from trademarks. Copyrighted themes
can only be copied as allowed by the license. Be it GPL or a CC license.
Copyrights only apply to creative works, so an icon _by_itself_, which
can be a trademark, is not copyrightable; nor does any text like
"Project Grayhem", no matter how creative the font, count as a creative
work (at least in the US). And unlike trademarks, fair use applies to
copyrights, so someone may be able to get away with copying a few of
your buttons. But if someone makes a copy of a substantial portion of
your theme (let's say 10 icons), then copyright is a very powerful tool
and your exclusive copying rights in most cases last until 50 to 120
years after you are dead and buried. Not only don't you have to actively
pursue people who misuse your theme, but you also don't have to quantify
the damage they did to you, as you do with trademarks. There are
minimums you can collect per copy made, from $750 to $150,000 -- with
$750 being a teacher who copied something they reasonably thought was ok
to copy after reading the license and $150,000 being willful
infringement. The absolute minimum is $200 per copy, and then the
defendant needs to prove that there was no copyright notice on the copy
they received and they had absolutely no reason to believe the creative
work might be copyrighted.

-- Daniel

PS This is a very rough explanation. The laws are a lot more nuanced
and often perplexing, and also differ in the details in each country.

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