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The following question was closed:

How To Add TFileAttribute switch to IOUtils functions

I, and others, voted to re-open the question. I also flagged the question saying:

This question was closed incorrectly by a single moderator vote. Can we get it open again please?

This flag was marked helpful but then the question was deleted by the moderator Lasse V. Karlsen. Lasse also left the following comment:

This question, and answer, contains code copyrighted by Embarcadero. Not only will it stay closed in its current form, it will also be deleted.

I don't believe, although I could very well be wrong, that either question or answer contains code copyrighted by Embarcadero. As a licensed user of Delphi Profession, I have the source code to the Delphi libraries which is where I presume Lasse believes the source code originates. I cannot find it there.

I flagged the question again saying:

I don't believe that there is copyright violation here. Could the supposed violation be made more clear?

This flag was declined by casperOne with the comment:

A moderator reviewed your flag, but found no evidence to support it.

Clearly one of the moderators, presumably Lasse believes that this code violates Embarcadero copyright. I would like to see the evidence for that assertion. I fully understand that I may be mistaken and that this really is a violation of Embarcadero copyright and that I simply have not found or do not have access to the copyrighted code in question.

For what it is worth, the question was later re-posted: How To Add TFileAttribute switch to IOUtils functions.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

In order for a moderator to remove infringing content from Stack Overflow, the moderator must be able to verify that copy-pasting took place. In the absence of that verification, a better course of action is for the copyright holder to provide SE corporate with a DMCA take-down notice.

Moderators make every effort to remove copy-pasted material when they can, but they cannot get involved in copyright disputes, for a number of reasons:

  1. Mods cannot always verify that copyright infringement is taking place.
  2. Mods don't have the power or the authority to fully act on copyright issues.
  3. Mods do not know the intent of the copyright holder.

It seems to me a perfectly reasonable approach to provide just enough code to illustrate the problem, without unduly exposing any trade secrets. But only the copyright holder knows whether that's an acceptable use or not. And the OP knows too, if they read their agreement with the copyright holder.

Before flagging such questions, consider raise the issue with the OP first by posting a comment on his question. It's possible they will voluntarily comply.

In the future, I suggest that you use the term "copy/paste" for these kinds of flags, explaining that this particular owner of the source code doesn't like any of their code exposed on the Internet. A moderator can decide that you are flagging in good faith, and remove the material on that basis.

But the only persons/entities that can raise a copyright claim are the copyright owners themselves, and the only way they can legally do that is by issuing a DMCA takedown notice to SE corporate.

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2  
I would appreciate it if the moderators could show a little more consistency on this topic. In recent weeks I have been told by a mod not to raise copyright issues as comments. You suggest otherwise. This post also seems to indicate that Lasse was incorrect in deleting the SO question that inspired this meta Q. If I understand you correctly you are suggesting that I should ignore copyright infringements, unless I am the copyright holder. –  David Heffernan Dec 5 '11 at 17:59
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You shouldn't raise copyright issues at all. Only the copyright holder can do that. But you can always say "This is not a good idea. It violates your agreement with Embarcadero." If someone posts a link to a pirated PDF copy of a book, you can say "This is a pirated copy of a book by a well-known publisher," and a mod or other community member can "soft delete" it, on the basis that we don't want that stuff here. But the mod cannot remove the edit history; only SE corporate can do that, which they will do in response to a valid DMCA takedown notice. Do you see the difference? –  Robert Harvey Dec 5 '11 at 18:02
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If you don't feel comfortable leaving a comment on the OP, that's fine; go ahead and flag. Just don't expect mods to untie the copyright Gordian knot. –  Robert Harvey Dec 5 '11 at 18:10
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OK, I get it. It would be nice for the mods to all be on the same page in future. Thanks for your time. –  David Heffernan Dec 5 '11 at 18:28

As the moderator who closed the question, it was closed for these reasons:

  • Borders on being nothing more than a wall of code, which satisfies the "not a real question" criteria
  • Asks "Also are there any improvements that could be made to these two functions?" which is highly subjective and therefore satisfies the "not constructive" criteria (and as ChrisF points out in the comments, Code Review is better suited for questions of this nature)

I also declined the flag about there not being a copyright issue here. That was indeed an error on my part, as the FAQ has a topic on this (which is the best guide we have right now without Jeff stepping in)

I'll give Lasse the opportunity to answer about the deletion, as he performed that action.

Note though that a user did vote to delete the question as well, so it should not be viewed as a unilateral decision.

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9  
Code Review exists for questions like "are there any improvements that could be made here" –  ChrisF Nov 29 '11 at 16:45
    
@casparOne Thanks for the feedback. I agree that the question as asked is hard to parse. However, my interest is more in the copyright issue. –  David Heffernan Nov 29 '11 at 16:49
    
@DavidHeffernan: NP. I'd recommend editing your question to that effect, as it stands now, you are really asking two questions, and that in itself makes it difficult to give you one answer for both. –  casperOne Nov 29 '11 at 16:49
    
@casperOne OK, I will do so. I asked the question as I did to give the back story, but I agree I should make it very clear the question I am asking. –  David Heffernan Nov 29 '11 at 16:51
    
@DavidHeffernan: Also elaborated that I was the one who declined the flag about not being a copyright issue. –  casperOne Nov 29 '11 at 17:05
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"Note though that a user did vote to delete the question as well," But 3 users voted to reopen it too. –  NullUserException อ_อ Nov 29 '11 at 17:20
    
@NullUserExceptionอ_อ: Agreed, but wanted to dispel the notion that this was a unilateral decision (even though when acting on any flag it can't be unilateral; someone other than the mod obviously felt the same way). –  casperOne Nov 29 '11 at 17:25
    
The statement "Not only will it stay closed in its current form, it will also be deleted" is fairly decisive. –  David Heffernan Nov 29 '11 at 17:39
    
@DavidHeffernan: That was not my statement, it would be out of place for me to comment on that. –  casperOne Nov 29 '11 at 17:49
    
@casperOne I know. It seems that we just need to wait until Lasse is able to comment. –  David Heffernan Nov 29 '11 at 17:50

I was the one that deleted the question, and answer, and the reason was that all the code is lifted from source code copyrighted by Embarcadero.

Unless copyright policies has changed, noone is allowed to post content copied from other sources.

I too did a source for this, but unfortunately I don't have the sources that comes with Delphi, but I did find numerous mentions of that specific function, in code examples that were meant to be tutorials for using Delphi.

As such, I understood the code as bundled with Delphi, and thus covered by copyrights.

If that was wrong, then I apologize, and will easily reverse the deletion.

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Thanks for taking the time to answer this query. I appreciate it. As I said, I can't find evidence that it is lifted from Embarcadero copyrighted code. Of course, it's much harder to prove something is not copied than to prove that it is. Looking again at the code it is very clear that the coding style is very different from the Embarcadero coding convention. Since Bill asked the question again, and got the answer he wanted, it seems that all's well that ends well. No need to do anything with original question in my view. Thanks again! –  David Heffernan Nov 29 '11 at 21:09
    
"Unless copyright policies has changed, noone is allowed to post content copied from other sources" - why? In the US, there's Fair Use. I suspect a copy and paste of a function for analysis falls within fair use (and pasting the entire source file probably would not). I can only say "I suspect", and I don't know for sure. Stack Overflow has safe harbor without the need for zealous policing. Perhaps Stack Overflow should just wait for a DCMA takedown request from the holder. –  jww Nov 11 at 3:50

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