From: Jonathan Coxhead (
Date: Mon May 15 2000 - 17:03:31 EDT

 | Well as someone interested in character names, I object to the name
 | proposed. The "right" in "copyright" refers to privilege and
 | permission, not to directionality. Consequently its reversal in the
 | term "copyleft" is inappropriate. I suppose its devisers thought it
 | "cute" in English, though it is not; COPYWRONG SIGN would be .

   Well, this is a funny thing ...

   I remember some text by Richard Stallman, who coined the term
"copyleft". I have tried to search the web for it, but it seems to
have disappeared from history completely. Maybe if someone has a
palaeolithic copy of Emacs, they could have a look for something like
the following ...

   Stallman (from memory) writes along the following lines:

         "Copyright" is used by right-wingers to enforce exclusive
      ownership and control. "Copyleft" is used by left-wingers to
      provide freedom and sharing.

   So, yes, it's an attempt to be "cute", but it's not a simple
reversal---it's a moderately sophisticated political joke. And one
which seems not to be widely known, as well.

 | Further, it causes translation problems: "copyleft" cannot be
 | translated correctly without knowledge of this. In Irish, we say
 | "cóipcheart" where "ceart" means privilege and permission. We do
 | have a directional "*cóipdheas" and therefore a term like
 | would certainly not occur to a translator.

   This is just the sort of problem that translators thrive on, isn't
it? Word-coinage often follows non-linear processes, and finding a
word that evokes both parts of the meaning of "copyleft" may well be

   But surely, a word (however new) cannot be rejected from the
English language just because it's hard to translate it?

 o o o (_|/

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