Copyright a spec?

Brad Hards brings up a twist to the whole kpdf, "to DRM or not to DRM?" question. Would kpdf infringe Adobe's copyright on the pdf spec if they did not include "reasonable efforts" at implementing DRM?

Are we sure it is even legally possible to copyright a specification? That seems absolutely ridiculous to me. How can implementing a given specification result in copyright infringement. After all, you're not supposed to be able to copyright an idea.

More food for thought: If Adobe can copyright their specification to the point that they can choose to license (or not license) according to their rules... what is to keep MS from copyrighting all of their interop interfaces. Seems this is a door big enough to close all efforts at reverse engineering. Which is another right we should possess. Not that MS isn't trying to do the very same thing with patent law...

Anyways, I don't buy this one.


As far as italian laws states that's a crime trying to get access to a system if the owners have the intent of protecting it, everything is possible. (yes: the intent... they can simply install a stupid W2K Pro, with Administrator's password as 123, and C$ opened on public IP, with a foolish firewall installed, turned on, and with all port set as 'enabled', and it's a crime trying to get into it...).

Anyway, as already said, I think the better way to be sure that no one will sue us is simply add DRM... and let users disable it on their own.

By Diego Elio Pettenò at Mon, 02/21/2005 - 16:44

I read in the news that the italian law was changed in concordance or even worse compared to the DMCA a few months(?) back. If this continues, you'll need to popup a list or landscape, where the user has to select his country, to be "somewhat" safe as a developer.

Also this poor Dj, being fined probably more money than he ever may earn in his live. It's so rediculous and hard to believe, what happens just to keep the business model of those alive, who have more than enough money anyways.

By carlo at Mon, 02/21/2005 - 19:09

The DJ who's been fined silly money was breaking ordinary copyright; in addition to MP3s of music he owned copies of on CD (a grey area), he also had stuff he hadn't paid for a copy of (downloaded off filesharing services), which he used in his act (morally iffy as well as illegal).

By [email protected] at Tue, 02/22/2005 - 11:14

Do you know the exact circumstances? I don't. I did not want to say he was right, my point is that in this fucking world it's allowed to nearly destroy a guy's life (the fine was 1,4 million Euros iirc), because he stole some immaterial and overpriced goods, slightly impairing a cartel named music industry. This is in no relation to what those have to expect, who are involved into organized crime or corruption affairs.

By carlo at Tue, 02/22/2005 - 14:26

Copyrights only apply to expressions, not ideas. See US Title 17 102 for a precise definition of copyright's boundaries.

Thus, the Adobe specification document itself (the actual printout you hold in your grubby little hands) is copyrighted, but the specification of the PDF standard is not copyrighted. The document is merely Adobe's expression of the specification. You cannot take it and distribute it willy-nilly. But you are free to create your own (non-derivative) expression of it, or to implement the ideas within.

By David Johnson at Mon, 02/21/2005 - 19:30