Legal Stuff

As the ColorTab app and website get closer to the elusive state called “done” I’ve had to make a lot of decisions about things that a lawyer would be happy to give advice about, for a fee. That’s not happening but after making those decisions myself, it seems like a good idea to put them in writing in case anyone wants to know. On the other hand lawyers will often tell you to keep it secret, privileged, burn before reading. But this idea is no secret, it’s public, open and I am setting it free, yet that isn’t enough to keep lawyers happy. How free is it? Who can do what with it? Do they need permission? It’s very complicated but here’s the deal.

The app, the ColorTab editor, player software code, is now published as open source on GitHub. You can go there, read the all of the code and find the MIT license that tells you what you can do with it. The short version is “anything you want.” With a warranty that says “AS IS” in uppercase lawyer quotes because that makes somebody happy. That’s called a permissive license because it doesn’t stop anyone from using my idea, and getting rich selling it instead of giving it away like I am. And they could decide not to be so nice and not keep it free and open, unlike what some less permissive licenses require. Maybe my free version and free derivatives can be alternatives that slow down such nonsense. Apologies to Stallman, I’m going down without a fight.

The new font that I created makes ColorTab into something much more than just a different way to display tab. The font is now published on GitHub with the very permissive SIL Open Font License that mostly just says my name “Freebrat” is a Reserved Font Name. Otherwise you can do “anything you want” (my non-lawyer words, read the license). I would like to give a hat tip to Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH, for choosing the open license, making it possible for me to create this derivative of the Bravura font. The new font also includes modified portions of the FreeMono font, presumably that is allowed under the GPL font exception. For the curious, the Freebrat name comes from Free+Bra+T; that is FreeMono plus Bravura adapted for plain Text use.

Another legal matter is the EU law General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR. It would be nice if that well-intentioned law had an exception for the little guy like me, it does not. So for now, I have decided to bypass it entirely by doing none of the things it prohibits, regardless of whether I have permission of the users that the law tries to protect. That decision is reflected in the privacy notice in the footer of the website. It unfortunately prevents having subscribers with the ability to comment and contribute to this website. Doing that isn’t possible without collecting and “processing” personal data like names and email addresses and then complying with managing that data in a burdensome fashion. Too bad. Instead I’ll have to let Google do that with YouTube comments and use Facebook posts and such, they can afford the huge fines for non compliance, I cannot.

Finally, there is the matter of music copyrights, with publishing companies that have caused the demise of many free tab websites and software creations looming large. Claims of fair use have not stopped them and I do not want to be on the casualty list. So I’m trying to tread very carefully, even though I know it would make musicians happy to see and hear more complete examples of songs they know and love in the new notation. I will try to be quick to respond to any cease and desist letters.

So I’ve made a sincere effort to do “due diligence” and comply with the laws and principles we call civilization. I wish it wasn’t so difficult to be generous and good. World peace would be nice too.