Re: (L)GPLv3

>>> Also, even if you do consider "or later versions" a significant
>>> risk, you should note that you've *already taken* this risk by using
>>> LGPL2.1-only, since LGPL2.1 allows using the work under GPL2 or any
>>> later version of the GPL.

Andy Wingo wrote at 05:09 (EDT) on Thursday:

>> Interesting, I was not aware of this. ....  The LGPLv3 does not have
>> that parenthetical statement. I don't know if that changes things.

AFAIK, it does.  If you want LGPLv3 code to be GPLv4-compatible, you do
need to make sure it's not licensed LGPLv3-only.  This outcome is indeed
different from the outcome with LGPLv2.1.

>> Josselin mentions the risks that might arise in specifying an "or
>> later" license. They are real, but can be mitigated via the proxy
>> clause in the (L)GPLv3.

>>      If the Program specifies that a proxy can decide which future
>>    versions of the GNU General Public License can be used, that
>>    proxy's public statement of acceptance of a version permanently
>>    authorizes you to choose that version for the Program.

I agree completely with Andy here.  I would encourage the GNOME
Foundation to take on this proxy role for GNOME projects, and to
encourage GNOME developers to start naming GNOME Foundation as its

Meanwhile, regarding FSF's copyright assignment form:

>>     4. FSF agrees that all distribution of the Works, or of any work
>>     "based on the Works", or the Program as enhanced by the Works,
>>     that takes place under the control of FSF or its agents or
>>     successors, shall be on terms that explicitly and perpetually
>>     permit anyone possessing a copy of the work to which the terms
>>     apply, and possessing accurate notice of these terms, to
>>     redistribute copies of the work to anyone on the same terms.
>>     These terms shall not restrict which members of the public copies
>>     may be distributed to.  These terms shall not require a member of
>>     the public to pay any royalty to FSF or to anyone else for any
>>     permitted use of the work they apply to, or to communicate with
>>     FSF or its agents or assignees in any way either when
>>     redistribution is performed or on any other occasion.

Alan Cox wrote at 15:22 (EDT) on Thursday:

> And ask your lawyer what happens if the FSF goes bankrupt.

It's a good question to ask, and people should ask it.  Indeed, I'd
encourage everyone to talk to a lawyer they trust before signing any
copyright assignment agreement.

Meanwhile, IANAL, but I have done a lot of research, multiple times over
the last decade (usually with the assistance of lawyers) about the
question Alan raises.  Here are some considerations about it:

First of all, FSF is a non-profit corporation incorporated in
Massachusetts and recognized by the USA Federal Government as a
501(c)(3) non-profit.  Both of these factors put serious restrictions on
what FSF can do, even if bankrupt, and how and to whom assets can be

I'd also note that in the copyright assignment form in question, AFAIK,
"FSF" includes it successors, etc.  Someone who gets hold of FSF's
assets, by hook or crook, will (I believe) still be bound by that term.

In short, FSF and its successors cannot violate its mission to advance
software freedom, regardless of FSF's current state.  And, the
contractual agreement is made with all its assignors. If something did
go truly wrong, it would make for quite a class-action lawsuit should
FSF do something not in fitting with the paragraph above.

BTW, all of us who work in the Free Software not-for-profit space often
think about the question "what if everyone at this organization is
replaced by evil replicants?"  We always try to draft agreements to
prevent even bad outcomes when that happens.

> Also btw in many countries check copyright assignment is actually
> possible !

Assignment is often still possible anyway, and people should discuss it
with the organization they're assigning to.

   -- bkuhn
DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this email are my own, not those of
            my employer.  My opinions are also not necessarily the opinions
            of any organization with which I have a volunteer affiliation.

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