Since the original memos, though freely redistributed, did not include any explicit copyright waiver, i emailed the authors to request clarification, which resulted in the following exchange, and explicit confirmation to publish them under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
(See also the original discussion here.)
From: Piet Delport <email@example.com> To: Guy Steele <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Gerald Sussman <email@example.com> Date: Wed, 23 Sep 2009 02:38:01 +0200 Subject: Transcribing AIM-349 and the other Lambda Papers: copyright status? Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Dear Mr. Steele and Mr. Sussman, I am humbly writing to ask about the original Lambda Papers, as hosted on <http://library.readscheme.org/page1.html>, and hope this email finds you. While studying these texts, it bothered me that no clean transcription of them seems to exist online, so i took it upon myself to make and (if possible) publish one, so that people may benefit from better access to these works. I imported and began transcribing AIM-349 on Wikisource (an online library dedicated to preserving intellectual works throughout history), working on the assumption that the Office of Naval Research funding qualifies it as a copyright-exempt work of the U.S. Government, but another user raised doubts about this. I decided the most hopeful course of action is to query you as authors directly: * What exactly is the copyright status of AIM-349 and the other Lambda Papers? (or the AI Memos in general?) * If you do not object to transcriptions of these papers, would it be possible for you to explicitly dedicate or license them as free content, to be compatible with Wikisource's policy? I hope you can find the time to respond; it would be great to see these papers cleanly preserved for posterity. Thank you, Piet Delport  http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Index:Scheme_-_An_interpreter_for_extended_lambda_calculus.djvu  http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Wikisource:Possible_copyright_violations#Scheme:_An_interpreter_for_extended_lambda_calculus  http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Wikisource:Copyright_policy
From: email@example.com To: Piet Delport <firstname.lastname@example.org> CC: Guy Steele <email@example.com>, firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Tue, 22 Sep 2009 22:02:28 -0400 Message-Id: <E1MqHBc-0001mW-5U@binah.csail.mit.edu> Hi there Piet! I have no idea if there are any legal problems with those papers. I never thought about that! As far as I am concerned those papers are free for anybody to use, with appropriate attribution. I am sure that was our original intent. You should just grab them and make whatever copies you like. I cannot think of anyone who would challange you. But if you are really worried about it, we can ask Patrick Winston, who was the director of the AI laboratory at the time the papers were written. In fact I am copying this message, with your message, to him. Pat: Are there any problems that I am not aware of? Gerald Jay Sussman
From: Patrick Henry Winston <email@example.com> Date: Wed, 23 Sep 2009 05:39:38 -0400 Message-ID: <4AB9ECDA.firstname.lastname@example.org> Gerry is correct. There is no problem as long as appropriate attribution is included. -- Professor Patrick H. Winston Massachusetts Institute of Technology Room 251 | 32 Vassar Street | Cambridge, MA 02139 Email: email@example.com | URL: http://people.csail.mit.edu/phw/ | Voice: 617.253.6754
From: Guy Steele <Guy.Steele@Sun.COM> Date: Wed, 23 Sep 2009 12:13:57 -0400 Message-id: <4E25116A-A989-460C-812C-5C4FD8634DED@Sun.COM> If it's okay with Gerry and with MIT, it is okay with me! I would also request attribution. Thanks for doing these transcriptions and making them available. --Guy Steele
From: Piet Delport <firstname.lastname@example.org> Date: Tue, 29 Sep 2009 18:56:54 +0200 Message-ID: <email@example.com> Thank you! Unless you prefer a different license, i'll go ahead and tag the works on Wikisource with the Creative Commons Attribution license (allowing free distribution and reuse as long as attribution is given).  http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
From: Guy Steele <Guy.Steele@Sun.COM> Date: Tue, 29 Sep 2009 12:59:38 -0400 Message-id: <BE07C588-5933-4B47-B2C3-DC1A33D9E0A2@Sun.COM> Sounds good to me. --Guy Steele
From: firstname.lastname@example.org Date: Tue, 29 Sep 2009 13:26:36 -0400 Message-Id: <E1MsgTE-0000Xaemail@example.com> fine with me.