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Title: Copyleft: An Alternative to Copyright in Computer Software and Beyond
Authors: Ganguly, Nirmalya
Keywords: Copyleft
General Public License (GPL)
GNU project
Proprietary software
Source code
Free Software Foundation/ Open Source Initiative
Creative Commons Organization
Free Art License
Issue Date: May-2007
Publisher: CSIR
Abstract: The paper deals with the development, which has provided a new perspective towards looking at traditional copyright law, viz. the institution of copyleft. By highlighting the myriad facets of copyleft licenses (typified by the GNU General Public License, the brainchild of Richard Stallman), the author illustrates the fact that the notion of copyleft bases itself upon the institution of traditional copyright whilst aiming to eliminate many of the ‘vices’ that are said to plague the latter. The paper examines intricacies of copyleft licenses, focussing in detail upon the criticisms levelled against it by proponents of proprietary software (essentially, business versus liberty argument), as well as contrasting it with open source software, another crusader in the war against established copyright law. It is author’s conviction that although its ambit is yet to be canvassed in a court of law, copyleft is surely a wake-up call for proprietary software manufacturers; it would encourage further research and innovation by the latter. Moreover, in order to pose a substantial challenge to copyrighted software, the bickering between the proponents of copyleft and open source software will have to cease. Significantly, copyleft licenses have of late extended to spheres beyond software as well, primarily in the arts (where licenses can be custom-made). Although it would be presumptuous to speak of copyleft as the death-knell of conventional copyright, it can surely serve as an alternative, and such a situation would only benefit society in general.
Page(s): 303-313
ISSN: 0971-5544
Source:JIPR Vol.12(3) [May 2007]

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