Erlang forums (was Re: PING TEST)

Fred Hebert mononcqc@REDACTED
Thu Dec 16 17:27:14 CET 2021

On Wed, Dec 15, 2021 at 12:53 PM Scott Ribe <scott_ribe@REDACTED>

> > On Dec 15, 2021, at 10:27 AM, Contact | Erlang Forums <
> contact@REDACTED> wrote:
> >
> > This is not the case. Code use is based on context and intent. So if
> somebody posts a code snippet in a thread where someone is asking a
> question about how to do something, they are, by contributing to the
> thread, implicitly stating that that person (or anyone reading the thread
> in future) may use that code in the context of the thread that they posted
> their snippet in (otherwise they wouldn't have contributed to it).
> While I imagine this is the INTENT, the ToS restrictions go well beyond:
> "You may not adapt, alter or create a derivative work from any
> content except for your own personal, non-commercial
> use."
> "You may not copy, reproduce, republish, post, broadcast, download,
> transmit, make available to the public, or otherwise use
> content in any way except for your own personal, non-commercial use."
> Restrictions on republishing, posting, broadcasting are understandable.
> But we may not download nor "otherwise use"? Really???
Unfortunately, most of these clauses are generally correct even in the
context of a mailing list. Copyright applies implicitly without needs to
declare it at all, and the clauses of "not creating derivative use except
for personal use" are active for any code you find online, get sent by
email, and so on, unless noted otherwise by a license. If someone shows you
code in a thread where asking for help but that code is not licensed, there
is actually no legal permission to use any of that code in any sort of
commercial systems nor for redistribution.

Code and even quoting people requires explicit legal permission to be
reusable in most jurisdictions, and any use you have made of such
contributions could have been considered by the original author to have
been intended for education purposes, and reusing them may be a legal
liability (which your lawyer -- which I am not -- should inform you about).
I have written books where even quoting someone from a public mailing list
was a big no-no without written permission, and if I wanted to cite Joe
Armstrong after his death, I'd have had to ask for written permission from
his estate in order to publish. Contexts in terms of academic reviews or
literary criticism tends to offer more freedom, but none of this is

Particularly, bits like:

Where you are invited to submit any contribution to
(including any photographs, text, graphics, audio or video) you agree, by
submitting your contribution, to grant Erlang Forums a perpetual,
non-exclusive, royalty-free, sub-licenseable right and license to use,
modify, reproduce, publish, translate, distribute, make available to the
public. By submitting your contribution to, you: ...

tend to lean on "non-exclusive, royalty-free, sub-licenseable right and
license" as legal jargon to say "you allow the erlang forum to republish
your stuff" (because otherwise they can't display it to other users whether
logged or not). The fact that a license is non-exclusive means that you are
free to keep another license for other uses, but implies that you also had
a license in the first place where it was legitimate to share that code and
grant that right. Eg. you can't share code your employer owns and isn't
open source and legally grand rights to it.

These are standard and would usually have been required or implied by the
erlang-questions mailing list archive. That Ericsson didn't explicitly set
them up is up to their lawyers; but there were, for example, a google
groups mirror of the list, which are posted under the following general
terms: , specifically the section
"Permission to use content" which similarly contains a "non-exclusive,
worldwide, royalty-free" license to anything that gets posted there.

As such, if you look into the way the groups are mirrored for the mailing
list, anything posted there may already more or less abide by
similar-sounding licensing terms and there isn't much that's new under the
sun. In fact, the erlangforums terms may even be narrower than Google's
terms, which also include permissions to data-mine and translate whatever
is posted to their systems.

Also let me add a mandatory "I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice"
disclaimer here; I am speaking of my experience having had to deal with
copyright before in various functions as an author and someone having had
to deal with lawyers in corporate settings around open source, but have no
such qualifications myself.
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