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Re: [dvd-discuss] Gedanken Experiment -Unix and Norton

microlenz@earthlink.net wrote:

This one piece out of order...

> ... the kind of editing that would be
> necessary to transform database to a copyrightable work would also negate the
> utility of a database and 

If you define database narrowly to only mean a complete transcription of
offline records into online form, I agree.  I think the term is
broader.  Back to the "Norton" example, Norton (check their website) has
decided (editorially) that "Spyware" like Gator et. al. is not "a virus"
and therefore won't include it in it's virus signature database, nor
remove it (grumble, complain).  While the virus definition file *is* a
database, it reflects a set of conscious editorial decisions on what
does and does not constitute a virus.

Now back to the top of your post.
> Discretionary Editing of a database is an oxymoron. A database is simply a
>  SYSTEMATIC collection of facts. A database that showed editorial
> discretion in what goes into it would be totally useless as a database.

I was using "database" in the broadest sense.  An online encyclopedia
would be a database in this sense.  A discography/bibiliography of the
"greatest rock and roll music" would be a database in that sense.  Both
the encyclopedia and the "greatest" databases will certainly reflect
editorial discretion.  One would expect to find and "Wycliffe" (the
first to publish a bible in his local (non-latin or greek language) in
an encyclopedia, but not entries of all of the others listed in "Fox's
Book of Martyr's".
> Editing would be censorship ("No there was no Holocost otherwise
> we'd have something in our database", "What of NYT, 1946?","Sorry our editor
> decided to use his discretion and
> did not put that in our database") 

The winners write history.  I shudder to think what a post war Nazi
"ministry of truth" would have done to that piece history.  

> >
> > As for programs, these "facts" are in their entirety the "editorial
> > discretion" of the programmer including,
> Lets investigate this one
> > the choice of variable names,
> index, index1, index2..count, count1, count2? Ismpl(i),Qsmpl(i),ARRAY1(I),
> aRRAY2(J),.....AND LETS not forget X,Y,Z, i,j,k

Yes, even while trivial these choices do reflect creative decisions and
even cultural influence

int todo; 

is this "everything" (Spanish)-- i.e. the total of all elements, or "to
do" (English), the number of elements left to process?

float mach;  /* mach number or the amount to make (machen) German,

I once spent a long night debugging a FORTRAN77 supersonic Euler
equation solver because I'd forgotten


and for some reason the mach number computation was wrong... (bonus
points for the solution)

#define SICHER true

Even the style

if ( condition ) { 

is an editorial choice vs. (the evil and useless)

if (condition )

Individually these are no more copyrightable than i++ or "1 whole note
of middle C", but collectively they represent not facts, but creative
editorial choices.

> > the structure and order of the operations,
> The structure and sequence of operations generally determines what is done.

If there are five tasks to be done and some of which are order
independent, then the author is making a editorial choice of what order
to present them.  This can be base on a traditional order, an order
which is clearest or most maintainable, or any other number of
considerations not driven by functionality alone.

> There is less creativity there other than optimization but optimization is not
> creativity it is algorithm development and discovery. 

Is there a clear line between optimization and algorithm development? 
At some point doesn't an optimization change the definition of the
process enough that it is a new process?

> It is not covered by
> patent and never should be. 

Optimization or algorithms?

> Furthermore, since it has never been covered before
> should it ever be, the patent office must cover the UNPATENTED prior art before
> granting any patent (exercise for the alert reader. In expanding the scope of
> patents, the previouslyunpatented prior art invalidates a patent for it but how
> does the patent office check for THAT.)

Especially since source code is unpublished by and larger.  This is why
the unpublished copyright granted to software is a disaster.  I'd rather
have a twenty-year patent cover a novel process (something REALLY novel
like... skip-lists
than hide away all useful code for 95 years (and even then it isn't

> >the selection of algorithm,
> Bubble sort vs heap sort.....not that exciting a programming task...after
> looking at the 1.9GHz Pentium 4, 500Mhz buss, 500MB memory and 40GB Harddisk I
> have at work, this is not much of an issue except where people are really
> pushing things (e.g, computer graphics or ray tracing , communications
> simulations)

What about those of us trying to fit this same functionality on 400MHz
processor and run at low power -- the embedded space.

In terms of general choices, what about heap vs. quicksort vs. skip-list
vs. ...  How about the choice of a dithering algorithm or a time-step
CFD algorithm?  Let's look at multimedia -- this stuff will consume
every cycle you throw at it (and will for the next few years) Filtering
kernels choices,  audio encoders, lossless or lossy compression, motion
estimation approaches, bitrate control. 

Lot's of room here for creative choices that strong impact the quality
of the

> > the syntactic style ("{" on the same line as the conditional...
> > please!), and myriad other unique creative details.
> Writing style is not copyrightable. How much Hemmingway or Hammitt hash was
> created in the 30s and 40s? The placement of comments or good programming style
> is not the stuff of copyright (although it can be used for investigation of
> copyright infringement or theft of trade secrets)

Yes but it distinguish coding from "mere fact".  T
> BTW I will admit to having a very distinct programming style. Look at Appendix
> E in the back of B. Sklar Digital Communications 1ed Appendix E. Guess which
> sections were mine and which were my coauthors.
> But much of this applies to Source code...not object code and that is generally
> a trade secret. But even if it is not, there is considerably less originality
> in it than most of the court decisions would have us believe.

Don't underestimate us programmers and engineers.  

<stuff we agree on ... snipped>


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