A Public Statement on Recent Events

Preface:
Whilst I am saddened and disappointed to be writing this public statement, I feel that it is important for another side of the story to be heard.
Please remember that this is my perspective on recent events, and that the legal interpretations are mine alone, and based upon United Kingdom law. If you are in any doubt as to your position, please consult with a lawyer familiar with intellectual property laws in your juridistiction.

A Statement on Current Events and Accusations- Objects:
In January of this year, a certain developer decided to unilaterally attempt to withdraw many objects and several utilities created eight years ago in the approximate period 2004- 2008.
Further to this, he attempted to blackmail this site and several others into removing all content by sending copyright infringement notices, which were overbroad at best and speculative at worst. My assessment of the legal position is as follows:
These files were released under the following stipulation (Sample file header):
;Guy Lorry – Silent Night Beds,
;Object created by Alan Wheeler, aka Guillyman, email REDACTED
;From Photographs by eezypeazy, email REDACTED
;copyright eezypeazy and Allan Wheeler 2008. All rights reserved. You may publish this object without alteration in your BVE routes providing that you acknowledge this copyright.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, we need to understand the status of a license agreement in United Kingdom (UK) law. As such, a license agreement is nothing more or less than a special form of contract.
What this means is that all the usual rules with relation to contracts apply equally to license agreements.

First off therefore, we need to determine by exactly what license agreement the content in question is licensed. Taking the original source as our starting point, there are no formal terms and conditions present on any snapshot contained the web-archive for this website (No longer online).
The only reference to usage is the line:
If you use any of these objects in a route, please drop me an email
This means therefore that in order to determine any specific terms placed upon the licensee by the license of the content in question, we must rely on the text within the header of each object, an example of which is reproduced above.
Taking this one line at a time:
;Object created by Alan Wheeler, aka Guillyman, email REDACTED
This is clear enough- It states one of the original authors and provides a means of contact.
;From Photographs by eezypeazy, email REDACTED
Again, this is clear enough- It states the second contributor to this work.
;copyright eezypeazy and Allan Wheeler 2008. All rights reserved. You may publish this object without alteration in your BVE routes providing that you acknowledge this copyright.
The final line is where it gets interesting.
First off, it states ‘All rights reserved’- This is pretty standard legalese, and in this context just means that any rights not specifically granted to the licensee are reserved. (I.E. Modification, redistribution etc.)

The final part of this line states the allowable uses under the license it’s redistributed under- In this case ‘You may publish this object without alteration in your BVE routes providing that you acknowledge this copyright. ‘
Again that’s clear enough, and not something that is in dispute.

As this concludes the license information supplied to us, we must therefore rely for any further provisions as those set down by statute (law).
One of the most important features of contract law is that a contract or license cannot be modified after inception unless a serious breach has occurred.
A particularly relevant piece of case-law in this is that of Butler Machine Tool Co Ltd v Ex-Cell-O Corporation (England) Ltd [1979]
This deals with a situation whereby the sellers (Ex-Cell-O) made an offer to the buyers, who subsequently made a counter-offer by returning an order with a different set of terms & conditions-n In this case, it was held that the counter-offer made by returning the second set of terms & conditions was valid, not that in the first instance.
So, what does that actually mean in this situation? This shows that the terms that are held to be in force at the formation of the contract are paramount, and that they are not subject to unilateral variation by the seller.
(Obviously, mutual variation is acceptable)

Similarly to allow a unilateral termination of a contract or license, a serious breach of it’s terms must have occurred, or a fixed licensing period must have expired.
( http://www.ipo.gov.uk/skeletonlicence.pdf )

So, therefore let’s look at the position for termination of the license. The original license agreement as supplied specifies no additional rights of withdrawal or termination, and thus if we wish to exercise these, then it must be one laid down in statute.
As this isn’t a special situation (UK Consumer Credit act etc.), then the only right applicable here is a serious breach of the license terms, or that of the expiry of a fixed term license.
Neither of these can be said to have happened.

I am complying with the original license terms, hence there is no actionable position.

A Statement on Current Events and Accusations- Utilities:

I am also being accused of ‘stealing’ the utilities and objects which I have posted upon this site.
Whilst I have always acknowledged that I have created many of these specifically in response to the withdrawal of those previously provided, there is no legal basis whatsoever for this to be called ‘stealing’, and this implication is offensive in the extreme.
Again, to go back to the legal position, the concept for these utilities have simply does not have the potential to be patentable, and thus actionable under patent law-
Let’s take each of these utilities in turn:
Cylinder Generator:
The European Patent Convention (EPC), Article 52, paragraph 2 excludes from being patentable discoveries, scientific theories and mathematical methods.
Generating an cylinder around two points is a very simple application of circle theory and the use of Pi, and clearly falls under this.
TrackGen:
TrackGen generates both track and platforms. These platforms are generated Railway Standards Group GI/RT7016 ( http://www.rgsonline.co.uk/Railway_Group_Standards/Infrastructure/Railway%20Group%20Standards/GIRT7016%20Iss%203.pdf )
As I have already noted, mathematical methods are not patentable, and therefore the curve related transform functions of TrackGen cannot be placed into this debate.
Furthermore, as the generated content is clearly compliant with the with an external standard, it is plainly ridiculous to attempt to claim that I have ‘stolen’ this.
Station Nameboard Generator:
What this program does is to very simply overlay text onto a pre-provided image, using standard .Net library functions. With the amount of prior art available for programs which overlay text onto an image, it is clear that simply doing this is not cause for action.
We must therefore take into account the form of the finished product- This is again a ‘standard’ set long before the previous program was even dreamed of, and so again this is not actionable in the slightest.

Conclusion:

All in all, I feel that I have been more than fair in my dealings with this gentleman, and I trust that this statement explains my legal position adequately.
In good faith, I have offered to meet this gentleman in court to let an impartial arbitrater decide, as well as voluntarily choosing to replace large numbers of the objects in question, but instead I have been met with further accusations and invectives.

Please read both sides of this ugly debacle, and decide for yourself who you choose to support- This statement is only my perspective.

Christopher Lees

29th November 2014

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *