Re: Foundation and Source Code Copyright

On Fri, 2007-08-03 at 12:49 +0100, Thomas Wood wrote:
> On Fri, 3 Aug 2007 07:06:39 -0400
> "Luis Villa" <luis tieguy org> wrote:
> [...]
> > > > A couple of developers, including myself, have been working on a
> > > > new capplet for the control center. Since we had been working on
> > > > it as a group we decided it would be fairest to assign copyright
> > > > to the foundation rather than any particular individual.
> > 
> > You can always jointly own copyright; if you look around CC I'm sure
> > you'll see lots of files that are (c) both jrb and chema, for example.
> We were aware of this, but since contributions mean that there are
> often a half a dozen different contributors to one file, we thought it
> may be easier to assign copyright and then list the contributors as
> authors.
> After all, should someone who has made just a small patch really be
> responsible for the copyright of the whole file, or just the lines they
> contributed? The opposite question also applies; Should the person who
> started the work be responsible for the contributions of others which
> may even unknowingly infringe on other copyrights.

It's not about being responsible for others.  As was already said, the
list is just documentation, it may or may not be correct.  The list
itself doesn't bring any legal responsibility I guess.  With version
control systems, it's always possible to track down who introduced what,
so you really don't need to worry.

And best practice if you are not interested in the copyright of the code
personally may be to ask your employer if they are interested.  One
advantage of the current way we assign copyright is that we diversify
ownership.  When multiple companies (Red Hat, Novell, Sun, ...) own
copyright on a package, it's harder to do something wrong (for example,
to relicense the package under a new license).

> I think these were some of the issues we were hoping to avoid in
> assigning the copyright to a single entity. Obviously we also hoped
> that assigning the copyright to the foundation would have the advantage
> that they would be more prepared to defend the copyright should the
> need ever arise.

If you still want to assign to someone else and be done with it, FSF can
do that I guess.

> Regards,
> Thomas


"Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little
 Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
        -- Benjamin Franklin, 1759

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