Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 30th Jan 2012 14:10 UTC
General Unix "One of the fun examples among all the copyright fuss is the extreme example of copyright claims made by AT&T some time in the 1980s. It's the /bin/true program. This is a dummy' library program whose main function is to make it easy to write infinite loops (while true do ...) in shells scripts. The 'true' program does nothing; it merely exits with a zero exit status. This can be done with an empty file that's marked executable, and that's what it was in the earliest unix system libraries. Such an empty file will be interpreted as a shell script that does nothing, and since it does this successfully, the shell exits with a zero exit status. But AT&T's lawyers decided that this was worthy of copyright protection." Three blank lines. Copyrighted. You can't make this stuff up.
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Nothing to see here, move along.
by spudley99 on Mon 30th Jan 2012 14:26 UTC
spudley99
Member since:
2009-03-25

Okay, fair enough, this is worthy of a small chuckle. But it certainly isn't worthy of the anti-copyright rhetoric in this article.

What's happened here? It's obvious: They've simply run a script that appends their copyright message to the begining of every file in their source code.

Hardly an unusual thing to do.

The fact that it results in oddities like this is fairly irrelevant. And it certainly doesn't imply anything about the concept of copyright.

Reply Score: 1

Earl C Pottinger Member since:
2008-07-12

Except the idea of a copyright on a empty file suggest THEY were not doing their due diligence on what they slapped their copyright onto.

This is the sort of thing you expect from SCO not AT&T. Plus it raises questions about how valid their other copyright statements are and companies like SCO can cause you to waste a ton of money because of a careless slip like this.

Reply Parent Score: 6