From: Antoine Leca (
Date: Mon May 15 2000 - 14:49:55 EDT

I read this thread with distance, but things become funny!

John Cowan wrote:
> > >It ["copyleft"] is a common name that is not meant to be
> > >translated
> >
> > You cannot stipulate this. "Copyright" is commonly translated.
> The Spanish, French, Norwegian, Turkish, and Russian versions of these
> pages use "copyleft" -- in the Russian page, using Latin script to boot.
> The Japanese version says "「コピーレフト」", which I cannot interpret,
> but appears to be katakana, thus probably a borrowing as well.

If it is Katakana, it might well be a translitteration. ko-pi etc.
(tools *and* knowledge are missing here, but it really looks like EUC-JP)

> Only the Italian version uses the phrase "software libero senza
> permesso d'autore", with a translator's footnote:
> Si tratta di un gioco di parole, che qui viene
> reso con "permesso di autore": copyright
> (diritto di autore) formato dalle parola "copy" (copia)
> e "right" (diritto, ma anche destra), opposto di "left"
> (sinistra, ma anche lasciato).

As an aside, I always considered "copyleft" as a wordgame, same as the
Italian translator, but I saw in fact two interpretations:
- one is explained above;
- the other is with "copy (is to be) left", referring to the requirement
of the GNU licence that mandates that anyone needs to be able to retrive
a copy of of the source somewhere, so means that a "copy has to be left
somewhere"; and also explains that the software is given without any
warranties, so it is "left (to the public)".

I do not know if the inventor(s) of the words had this idea, or even if
this interpretation only comes from my French-biased interpretation of
the English (I mean, I do not know if "to left" is appropriate in the
context above). But I feel the story was too nice.


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