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Cactus521

The copyright question - or - is it that time of year a...

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After seeing the recent incident with Kari Virtanen and the issue that he may have "aquired" information to use in his own model I got to looking around. As most of you long time AVSIM members are aware this subject seems to come up on a regular cycle here on the forums.So I did some reserch and here is what I found. from what I can gather Kari has done absolutly nothing in error. The concept and ideas of the original programs or files, and also the method may be protected but the technicle calculations of doing it is not. here is one sentence in the copyright act of the USA that stands out."In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery.I have included some info here for your reading pleasure and to stimulate constructive conversation ONLY. Not to cause dissention in any way. Maybe we have been looking at the copyright issue in a very wrong way. The model and the art of the model is protected, but not the method of getting to the end.=======================================First we need to understand,WHAT IS A SOFTWARE COPYRIGHT?Computer programs are considered "literary works" for the purpose of copyright law. The 1980 amendments to the Copyright Act define a computer program as a "set of statements or instructions to be used directly or indirectly in a computer in order to bring about a certain result." Any computer program, whether described as software, an application, a tool, or a system program, may be protected under copyright law. Then we can more readily understand this,WHAT IS NOT PROTECTED UNDER COPYRIGHT LAW?The Copyright Act states that "In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery . . . " This includes algorithms, program logic, and layouts. Things like systems and processes may be protected under patent law, but not copyright law. Therefore, if a computer program provides a novel method for parsing digitized analog signals, only the actual program that embodies the method and incorporates the program logic and algorithms is subject to copyright protection, not the method itself. Remember, the program logic and algorithms by themselves cannot be copyrighted. This may appear counterintuitive to a programmer. After all, the tough part of software development involves the conceptualization of program logic and algorithms. However, program logic and algorithms represent an idea for the purpose of copyright. Though the actual coding of the method is typically only a mechanical exercise to a skilled programmer, it does require creativity to express a concept, method, or idea with sufficient detail to create a platform sensitive, error free, and rigorous program. It is only this mechanical, but creative, expression that is subject to copyright protection. 5.1 An Idea Alone Is Not ProtectedIt is important to note that an idea is not subject to copyright protection. It is only the manifestation of an idea that is protected, in a particular tangible form and affixed in a specific manner. In other words, the expression of the idea must be clearly distinguishable from the idea itself. This is not as illogical as it may sound. If an idea were copyrightable, programmers, mathematicians and many other professionals the world over would have to "reinvent the wheel" constantly. The following example represents a situation commonly faced by programmers. ExampleLet's say that our Berkeley Lab programmer Cliff decides to work on a non-hacker project for chemists. He reads about a better way to calculate the area under a curve than that provided by traditional integral calculus. He uses the mathematical equation from the research article as the basis for a computer program to calculate the area under chromatographic elution curves. Though the particular research article is subject to copyright protection, the mathematical equation alone is not subject to protection. First, the author of the article had an idea for a method. This idea is not subject to copyright protection. Second, the author expressed that idea by a mathematical equation. This equation is also not subject to copyright protection. A mathematical equation is considered a "work of nature" and belongs in the public domain. Third, the author incorporated the equation into a research article that describes the method. It is only this particular manner in which the method and equation is described that is subject to copyright protection. Therefore, Cliff has not violated any copyright by using the equation from the article, in his program. The resulting computer program that incorporates the equation is subject to copyright ownership that vests with the author of the program. Only the computer program that is fixed and written in a specific language and, in this case, is designed for chromatography, that can be copyrighted. If a third programmer uses the equation for another purpose, and writes a different program in another language, the resultant work may be altogether distinct from the first and merit its own copyright. Even if someone uses the same equation to write a program in the same language to perform the same function as Cliff did, Cliff's copyright may not have been violated. As long as the second expression is otherwise distinct from the first, a separate copyright may be established. This expression is based on the programmer's own style of coding, which represents his own unique expression of an otherwise mechanical process. Remember, the method represents an idea and cannot be copyright-protected. Of course, courts generally decide whether one abstraction is sufficiently different from another for the two to be considered distinct expressions of the same idea. If the first programmer proves that the second program is identical or substantially similar to the first, then the courts may find copyright infringement.Therefore, if an idea can be separated from its expression, such as an entire computer program, then its expression may be subject to copyright protection as long as it meets the requirements of originality and fixation. If an idea cannot be separated from its expression, such as a mathematical equation or computer algorithm, then it is not subject to copyright protection. Bottom line: what US copyright law wants to protect is the "literary expression," not the concept, not the idea, but the original, fixed, and unique expression.

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Hello Dan,Purely for an esoteric excercise, I'll just put my tuppence worth in for a moment then retire.What I say here is based on the UK's copyright law of 1988 and amended by various EU directives. Essentially this law provides for protection of "works", that is to say tangible and distinct works which are capable of being distinguished from other "works" and having an identifiable character of their own.The interpretation of what constitutes a "work" lies as much in British case law as in the statute, and it is probably true that a simulator aircraft has never been argued about in case law. Nevertheless, it is not, technically, our aim to copyright methods or calculations and data, except that for the sake of ease of language and general understanding we may refer to those methods.It is possible that in our case, though the "work" we have produced is probably copyrightable, the methods and technology used in making it able to do things are patentable rather than copyrightable.We have applied for a patent for the methods we used but we have also declared a copyright for the work as a whole. One, both, or perhaps neither of these methods of protection may eventually work for us if legal action ever took place.But in practice, that is not particularly my interest. Much more potent in fact is the social and if you like, moral consequences of disregarding or abusing someone else's efforts. In a relatively small "community" like flight simming, most reasonable people will tend to make outcasts of those who perpetually disrespect the work of others by using it without courtesy of gaining permission. In extreme cases, this has indeed happened to organisations like Papa Tango, who are eventually driven to operating by frequent changes of trading names, or as it were hiding in the shadows of "legitimate" business practice. I am not suggesting our recent experience is ripe for invoking any of the above, since the two parties are probably going to come to an arrangement, for the sake of peace, and this arrangement will involve us making a concession which we feel we are not obliged to make, but want to in order, this time, to avoid stress for everyone involved.The recent trend in America, sadly more and more followed by Europe, of addressing every conceivable problem with a legal challenge, rather than addressing the morality of the problem, gives rise to obsessions with legal analysis and pontificating which actually divert the mind from really quite simple issues:In this case it is very simple indeed: We spent an awfully long time creating something which, from our feedback, people really enjoy. We feel entitled to protect that time and effort by dissuading others from pinching bits and pieces here and there to save them the work we did. Frankly I don't care particularly whether this is a sound legal argument or not. What matters is that most reasonable people will generally frown on this behaviour and cease to support those known to be in a habit of doing it.Unfortunately the situation is exacerbated by the growing number of people who expect as of right to be given bucket loads of freeware without any sense of responsibility on their part. They are often the same people who would be absolutely appalled if suddenly their personal salary was cut off and they were told that their toil for the last year had been abitrarily declared as free.Best Regards,Rob Young

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You said,"What matters is that most reasonable people will generally frown on this behaviour and cease to support those known to be in a habit of doing it."And there in lies the whole realm in one sentence. I hope that the post I made was not taken as one to cause trouble in the ranks but to cause healthy discussion in the hanger. I for one do not like the idea one bit that people "take" others ideas or work knowingly. As in the case that got me thinking and digging a bit, it was an honest mistake that has been corrected by those involved. I tip my hat to you both, and consider that there still are gentlemen in the world that a hand shake will still be binding amoung.

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Hi Rob,I like your air files a lot (going back to the Fly! 88's). I would like to know how you view your recent work. Is it for example permitted for a beginning air file designer to look at your copyrighted air files to see how some of the effects are achieved by a professional? As far is I can see its a common method in the computing world to look at how somebody else solves a problem and after that try to implement a solution based on that and to improve on it a little. Are your copyrighted air files off limits for this kind of

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HI "boshar",The problem with airfile data is that it is not so obvious, at first glance, as graphic data. If someone pinches a gauge bitmap it is crystal clear because sight gives instant recognition.But to my mind there is little difference in intent between stealing a bitmap and stealing an almost identical aerodynamic graph.With practice, it is very easy to spot airfiles which have had genuine work done as a result of personal endeavour, and airfiles which contain blatant copies. It is a misconception that dealing with FS airfiles is a different discipline from say dealing with Fly! air data. The two processes are more or less identical although the detailed protocols used are somewhat different.The key, in my view, to adjusting aircraft to fly well lies actually not in pouring over the airfiles but in getting in to the cockpit and acutely observing the reactions of the aircraft. If the aircraft does not react in the way it should, the tuning is very much trial and error, which is why it takes such a long time. However once the tweaks are in place, it is then very easy for someone else to come along and find the bits for their own unfinished jigsaw. I believe it is not playing the game to steal other people's jigsaw parts in this regard. In my case 95% of my work has been done through experimentation, and about 5% through correspondence with other designers. So any thing I have used knowingly from others has been with their express permission. In the case of spin data, the work is entirely my own, which is why I am rather keen others do not use it without my express permission.Regards,Rob Young

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Firstly, I'd like to say that this discussion is far more enlightening and instructive than the one in the main forum and it's been a pleasure to read it. I have a small thought though and it really is not reflective of anything said here, but of design in general. By trade I am a licensed mechanical consulting engineer. If I have a set of blueprints for, lets say a Cess 172, and give a copy to two engineers, I would expect that all of their calculations would be identical to 3 decimal places, since of course the plane and the (considerable) math/formulae are identical. Aeronautical parameters are easy to find on the web, or in books as also are what causes "unhappiness" (stalls, spins etc). Another example would be if someone composed an almanac with positions of planets, stars etc. This of course is not meant to justify use of others without permission (or to suggest one way or the other if it was done), but only to suggest that it is not impossible to duplicate something to the last detail by others ordinarily. "even blind pigs find acorns". None of us can go through every plane in flight sims just to be sure than none of our numbers match theirs. Having said that, I am very happy that this has been resolved by gentlemen to their mutual satisfaction.

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Fortunately, I see no legal means in which someone can hold rights to the "process" of getting a certain flight charactaristic out of an FDE--not if anyone else can do the same thing on their own.It may very well be that two people come up with identical means of tweaking some of these values, if there is only one "means" available to achieve desired results. IOTW, breaking down the problem of making an aircraft spinable We are going crazy in this world trying to claim ideas as our own, such as a recent story where someone tried to patent the concept of "simulation" as his own.Once FDE artists start patenting these means--basically telling me what I can do, it becomes Papa Tango scenario all over again. And I am getting sick of it in this hobby.... I'd be willing to bet that a few of the best FDE designers have borrowed some of my tricks from the FDE tips I've released over the years. And I don't have a problem with that, since the source from which we all benefit is Microsoft. I don't know of any FDE designer who didn't start with one of their FDE's as a base for learning and study. Lucky for us that Microsoft didn't patent the process, and restrict us all from releasing third party freeware and payware.Rant over.... Edit: And just one note--this is by no means saying that someone should be able to get away with taking an FDE as their own.... There are some telltale signs that this happens, as already pointed out by others. My issue is with those processes where the outcome of getting say, a spinnable aircraft, may indeed produce identical graphs or FDE numbers.

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Hi, Dan. It was my hope that this issue will not be continued to the Legal analysis, but since it has, against my best judgement, I decided to have a couple of my bodies, attorneys, look at some of these ongoing issues. They both specialize in Business law, patent / copyrights. The end result in a few words, RA and or any other so called Commercial enterprise, other than the MS, has a very small, to more likely , no legal recourse on any of the MS simulator related issues. As a matter of fact some of the so called

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> These types of challenges are most likely going to stagnate,>if not totally destroy this simulator, and I would not be>surprised if some of these Commercial developers would have>to, some day, defend themselves in a Court of Law. It would>seem that most, if not all, are violating certain terms of the>original agreement. If that can be proven, no law will ever>protect them.Now maybe it is because I live in Europe but I would be suprised if a courtbattle would happen over a MS200x add-on. Lets face it even the GPL hasn't had a court battle over it and the GPL is far more important then any copyright / license issues in this (relatively) small flightsim world.>While I know that this opinion may not be popular, I would>like to see ALL the Commercial developers have their own>forum, which now exists, and or pay for their advertisement>to these forums, if they post their company name, or product>that they sell. It is obvious that some of them, are taking>advantage of the knowledge and resources of these sites, and>then try to stop others from doing the same. TVAnd this would help what? Most people you call Commercial developers are former freeware authors and hobbyists who ask a little in return for all their effords and time. These ar not big money spending evil corporations. If you want to prevent anyone using your air files and other recource in commercial development release them under the GPL and insist that all output made by tools or editors made by you has to be released under the GPL.As far as I know the recources and knowledge on this site is all released as freeware unless there is a statement with the article our recource that claims otherwise. It would even be legal if microsoft would use these freeware files in a new release of FS200x. If you don't claim your rights on the things you release you loose them.

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"I would like to see ALL the Commercial developers have their own forum, which now exists, and or pay for their advertisement to these forums, if they post their company name, or product that they sell. It is obvious that some of them, are taking advantage of the knowledge and resources of these sites, and then try to stop others from doing the same." I believe it is even more simple....If a developer comes straight out and says--"I figured out how to do spins, it is my idea, I'm going to patent it, and you'll have to pay tribute to me", then I put that developer in the same league as one who came in and told us we couldn't apply the liveries we wanted to our freeware repaints. Doesn't matter that developer's accomplishments, contribution to the hobby--however you slice it and dice it, that developer destroys that rapport with an attempt to extort money out of a hobby.I don't think that's the case here, but it can grow into that once developers start saying they are going to patent a process--as if developing an FDE were akin to a feat of genetic engineering. I am fed up....and I agree that these developers need to communicate with each other and share, rather than watch as excellent work in every other right gets shelved because of petty disputes. Fighting over the FDE--the easiest thing to reverse engineer, puts the cart before the horse. Scan the forums, and you'll constantly see people placing panels and visuals ahead of the FDE. Many even consider it a given that the FDE will be replaced by one of their preference. I understand it can take hours of work to tweak a FDE... But it is an open platform and as such, there is risk in the sense that the work is revealed and open to others to interpret and/or apply. I wish Microsoft had required a compiler for FDE's, even encoding. The problem would have been solved.But make this a big enough issue, and I am sure Microsoft won't mind developers paying them a license fee for work that's sold. It may come to that, if the workings of their flight models become subject to the patents of others.

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John,Bottom line is that it's really down to common courtesy. There are a few websites devoted almost entirely to exchanging info on flight models, but none of them have yet come up with an aircraft that can spin or even side slip properly, otherwise we'd have heard about it by now, so free exchange is not always the answer.I agree to an extent with Avcomware in that it's very difficult to get any sim to do exactly what it should, but some get a lot closer than others.It's also not really true that shoving known data into FS2002 will magically produce a pristine flight model, otherwise MS would have achieved that by now since they have all the "correct" data. Ask any motion simulator tweaker and they will tell you that entering known lift data is only the beginning of the job, because entering the "correct" data relies on the core of the sim being accurate in the first place - but they never are. In fact many motion simulators fly quite poorly but are adequate for safety procedures. Microsoft have actively, and wisely tolerated people tweaking their core files for a long time now, since they recognise that allowing it fosters addons, and addons foster new customers for the FS series. So its symbiotic and works well. Microsoft actually test every new FS version at the beta stage with a host of well known addon aircraft and on occasions even adjust the core of the sim to run the addons well. So they are hardly objecting to what we do!As for the general gist of things, if you write a nice essay about your holiday and it gets published, whether you get paid for it or not, I expect you'd be peeved to see it later appear in another magazine in part or whole under someone else's name. The legal discussions are often just an excuse for people to avoid facing the crux of the matter: copying other people's stuff is not nice.Rob Young

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I agree 100 pct. Rob.....Coming up with similar concepts is one thing, but taking shorcuts by plagarizing other's work is an offense to work like yours and to others who share their efforts both freely and commercially. I don't know if you saw the thread a while back, but I had the same issue when someone stole a panel from my Microlight release. I was given "credit" for it, but I wasn't asked. That's about as rude as it gets. I can only argue about the concepts vs. the specifics.... IOTW, is making a spinnable aircraft stealing of someone's work, even if the .air file isn't stolen? I suspect you know your work well enough to know whether it was stolen, so I can't argue with you over that point. But sooner or later, once someone knows something can be done, they'll do it without ever having looked at others work. I never saw the FSLandclass Program. But after it was out, took me only a month or two of research to come out with my own.I also agree with your point about the data required to generate a good flight model. That is the fault of many FDE designers. They plug in numbers, and expect the aircraft will fly by the numbers. The true artists, like yourself and Steve Small, spend hours and hours working out every nuance of the flight model. But most modellers don't compensate for the way the sim deals with the numbers--their skill is with visuals, or with gauge design, or panel editing. I use MOI as a classic example. You and Steve Small are the only aircraft designers that seem to adjust the MOI as I do, and as I've done since the days of FS98....your aircraft feel like they are in a fluid environment, vs. on a highway in the sky. Put in some chop, and they pitch and roll the way I'd expect an aircraft to in chop. Putting in MOI numbers "by the book" is only half the story. Enter, tweak, fly.... Enter, tweak, fly.... Someone coming along and stealing that work line by line is very poor manners indeed. I've learned to create FDE's by experimentation. Coming up with a Microlight model took me hours, and still I didn't get it quite right until a Microlight pilot took interest in my project, and asked if I could make a couple of changes. I won't say what those were, but suffice it to say he claims it is the only FS Microlight he's flown that captures the feel. Having never flown in anything lighter than a 140, I can only go by that :)

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Hi John,"But sooner or later, once someone knows something can be done, they'll do it without ever having looked at others work."Precisely. Unfortunately Kira wasn't entirely happy with his work although he was proabably on the right track. I think in desperation to get it working he had a good nose around our files and found the missing links. Eureka!I'd be interested to have a fly around in your microlight. I think an aircraft of this size is very difficult to tweak. Everyone tends to think big aircraft like the 747 etc are really difficult to tune but really I find them very forgiving, though the engine tuning is always a nightmare. The smaller the more glaring the flaws, and twin props are a nightmare, hence Steve Small has a growing reputation in this department and probably knows more than anyone else how to get 'em good.Please let me know the link to your microlight - sounds interesting.Cheers,Rob

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You can download it here at Avsim--just search on Microlight and "Cillis".... But send an email to the address in the readme... I've since tweaked the FDE a bit more based on the feedback I received from the one Micro pilot... I can send that on to you as well. I'm curious what your feedback would be on crosswind handling--I worked pretty hard to give it the right feel on the ground, without sacrificing yaw sensitivty in the air.

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