Re: Licensing and copyright
- From: Danilo Segan <danilo gnome org>
- To: jm poure com
- Cc: foundation-list gnome org
- Subject: Re: Licensing and copyright
- Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2004 22:22:36 +0100
It's hard to stay out of this, it seems (and my apology to anyone
already enraged about this [part of] thread, but I cannot help
myself). I suggest only those who're really bored read this
(not excluding Jean-Michel either ;) -- I put out here my wealthy
arsenal of rants and trolls.
Jean-Michel POURE <jm poure com> writes:
> I was raising attention about other issues: the need for non-US residents to
> comply with the laws of the United-States, even after assignment.
This is completely off: you need not comply with US laws if you're not
US resident, and you're not currently in US. While in US, you
certainly have to abide by US laws.
So, if you assign your copyright to FSF, you get protection in the US
for no extra cost: in your own country, FSF can probably do little
about it, except in really significant cases.
As you also said earlier, most local laws in Europe don't allow
transferring complete rights, i.e. in at least Serbia, there's no way
to alienate "moral rights" -- if author of any copyrighted work finds
it misused as compared to their original intentions, they're allowed
and encouraged by law to get their rights back (to make a contract
void), or to seek some compensation.
So basically, if FSF under US law would ever have to go under
any of the scenarious you mention, it would happen only in US, unless
other countries also establish same (imaginary) laws you envision.
And if that happens, you're pretty much screwed up no matter where
you are, ain't you?
> In case of terrorism, the American government could well decide to nationalize
> the FSF assets (this is absolutely fiction) to prevent any use of Free
> Software by terrorists.
They can only "control" their own citizens, provided they allow them
to do it (or they change from "democracy" to some sort of "autocracy"
or "oligarchy", which they may already be ;).
> Another example :
> What if Gnome is used in an American power-plant and the power-plant explodes
> (this is absolutely fiction)?
I strongly suggest against using Gnome in an American power-plant.
Actually, I strongly suggest against using Gnome in any power-plant.
Gnome was not built up to the standards and requirements for high-risk
real-time operation (medical, army, running power plants, planes,
Gnome is a #$%!#@ desktop environment (ok, and development platform
for desktop apps)!
> To make it clearer:
> Let us suppose that I am a person of Siberia visiting California. Would you
> agree to sign an assignment under the laws of Siberia? Would you trust the
> Siberian government and the Siberian laws? Even if Siberia is the "best
> country for copyright".
I didn't know the Siberia has law-makers autonomous from Russia. :)
Still, American laws don't apply to you unless you're in the US (if
they do apply, it's because your country has an agreement with US, and
that's defined through your local laws, not US laws).
There's no clause in GPL or copyright assignments that you plan to
abide by US laws, whatever they may be. Do you perhaps remember
export restrictions on cryptographic software? How come there was so
lot of it, yet it was against the law in US to distribute it outside
US? How come that law didn't apply to European countries and their
And if you want to bring a point of "what if they change laws, and I'm
visiting US", how about this: "what if they change laws such as to
make all French or non-US citizens illegal in US, and you're visiting
US"? It's like thinking: "a man can get hit by a car when crossing
the street, so I'll hold onto this side of the street for the rest of
my life" (and later on, a car runs down the sidewalk and over you --
just trying to be a bit more poetic ;).
So stop with "what if's" and concentrate on realistic assumptions.
> Until a detailed analysis is written by a professor in law, I do not recommand
> any non-US resident to donate ownership of his/her Gnome work to the FSF
> California. If you are an American citizen, there is no problem in doing so.
There's no "ownership" of "work of an author" (as it's called in
Serbian copyright law).
That's the essence of copyright: creators of works that cannot be
"owned" are thus encouraged to produce them, because they get some
rights on their use for a limited period of time.
Also, there are a lot of peculiarities (eg. in Serbian law, a company
cannot be the "author" -- people must be authors, and they receive
"moral rights", and company which hired them receives only "exclusive
rights" to make profit out of it, resell, etc. but they may be
challenged at any time by holders of "moral rights").
It doesn't take a law professor to figure that much out. And there's
probably no law professor familiar with the copyright laws of all the
countries which from there are participants in the Gnome project.
So, what to do then? (rhetorical question, no need to answer)
And finally, you don't need to assign your copyright to FSF if you
don't want to. Once upon a time, this was a discussion about policy,
and possible ways for those that may wish to do so.
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