"Premise: The intent of copyright is to ensure that
documents and works reach the public domain after a specified
period of time (originally twenty years after creation, now seventy
years after the author's death, extended every twenty years by
twenty years). Copyright is a mechanism to a) allow people to make
work available with the guarantee that they will remain the only
supplier of that work and to b) ensure that work reaches the public
domain, so that it will someday be freely available for all
Once this is stipulated - and one may agree with it or not, but
I'm exploring its ramifactions here - I feel that the basic intent
of copyright is being violated with proprietary software. By not
publishing the source code - the program itself, they're violating
the spirit of copyright. Copyright should be sufficient protection
for the program's source code - that's what it's for.
Once copyright expires, the program is supposed to enter the
public domain (whether or not it happens in two centuries or
tomorrow is immaterial, the issue of copyright length is an
entirely different question) - but in the current state of affairs,
the program will not enter the public domain because the source
code of the program is not a matter of public record."
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