Re: Licensing and copyright

I'm not proposing anything except that current GNOME policy be
documented and made accessible to developers.

But there are good reasons to assign copyright to the FSF, a US-based
non-profit organization.  Basically, if enforcement of the GPL by legal
means ever become necessary, and there are a large number of loosely
affiliated or unaffiliated copyright holders, it may require the
cooperation of every copyright holder of disputed code in order to
successfully bring about an action.  The cooperation, as you mention, of
potentially hundreds pf contributors, with differing meaning of
copyright, in a number of countries.  So there are very good reasons to
do this copyright transfer, especially if you aren't interested in
legally defending your copyright as vigorously as the FSF would.

Upon assigning copyright to the FSF, they issue a perpetual,
irrevocable, unrestricted, royalty-free license back to the original
author, essentially restoring any rights lost to the author as a result
of the copyright transfer.

There are good reasons not to do this also of course.  Primarily because
it's pretty obnoxious to do.  Also, if the copyright belongs to a
company like IBM or Red Hat, there is similarly little reason to do so.
But it may make sense for individual contributors of large blocks of
code to assign copyright for the convenience of everyone involved.

But as I mentioned before, I am not a lawyer, and international
copyright law is simply too complex for a casual observer to digest.
This is exactly why I want to put together (or cause to have put
together) a document with guidelines for licensing for GNOME.


On Fri, 2004-02-20 at 10:23 +0100, Jean-Michel POURE wrote:

> Le Jeudi 19 Février 2004 21:34, Rob Adams a écrit :
> > The FSF has some general guidelines on prudent measures for handling
> > copyright for GPL projects, but GNOME does not seem to follow these
> > guidelines.  For example, the FSF recommends for many GNU projects that
> > contributors assign their copyrights to the FSF to make enforcement of
> > the GPL easier.
> Dear Rob,
> Are you asking if it makes sense to assign copyrights (owned by individuals 
> scattered in several countries, protected by their local constitutional and 
> author rights in more than 200 different countries)
> ...
> to ONE SINGLE organization registered in the U.S.A. ?
> In my opinion and I can only speak for myself, it seems more interesting to 
> take advantage of local laws (European, Indian, Brazilian, etc...).
> I like the FSF and I the United-States for several reasons. But I do not trust 
> the American laws, because they do not respect individual liberties.
> The day that you hand over your author rights to an American organization, you 
> will not be able to travel safely in the States and may get arrested for any 
> reason, including the DMCA.
> Is that what you are proposing to us?
> Furthermore, but this is only a very small issue: the notion of copyright is 
> completely different in the States and in Europe. In France, for example, you 
> cannot hand over a copyright forever or should at least get paid for it. In 
> most countries, handing over copyrights forever is not permitted. 
> On the converse, it seems relevant that American citizen hand over their 
> copyrights to the FSF if they wish to. It may be safer for them.
> Cheers,
> Jean-Michel
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