Re: Licensing and copyright

Hi Rob,

On Fri, 2004-02-20 at 21:02, Rob Adams wrote:
> OK I think that it's obvious that no one else thinks that some GNOME-
> specific guidelines would be useful to very many people, so I'm dropping
> the matter.

	No, I think it does make sense to have guidelines somewhere. New
contributors are always going to wonder does it make sense to assign
copyright to the GNOME Foundation or the FSF, and they shouldn't have to
guess what the answer is.

	Although this has never been a real issue for me since I just follow my
employers guidelines, some specific questions which I think contributors
would benefit from knowing the answer to might be:

  + If I really want to assign copyright to the FSF, how do I go about
    that? Can I just put it in the file header and be done with it or
    should I sign a copyright assignment form?

    (I'm assuming you do actually have to sign a copyright assignment
     document in order for it to be enforceable, but after a brief look
     I can't find any definite answer on how to go about)

  + Same question, but this time wrt assigning copyright to the GNOME

  + If I assign copyright to the Queen of England[1], is it just 
    something we can all chuckle at or am I potentially causing problems
    for the whole project?

  + What should I do if my copyright spans multiple years ?

       - Copyright (C) 2001, 2003
       - Copyright (C) 2001 - 2003
       - Copyright (C) 2003

    I've heard that using just the most recent year is better when it 
    comes to proving the copyright claim is valid.

  + If substantial changes are made to the code after the date stated
    in the copyright claim, am I leaving the copyright ownership for
    the more recent code as undefined if I don't add the most recent

  + What constitutes a large enough contribution in order to make a
    copyright claim?

  + Oh, and not on copyright, but ... in the header of the code I write,
    I state:

 * This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or
 * modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as
 * published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the
 * License, or (at your option) any later version.

    if I don't feel I can trust the FSF not to modify later versions of
    the GPL in some way I'm not comfortable with, is it acceptable for
    me to remove the "any later version" bit?

	I think the are probably many questions like this that would benefit
from definite "GNOME Foundation" answers[2]. If we really care that
licensing and copyright assignment is carried out properly across the
project then we should at least help all contributors not make mistakes.

	Also, I think that just saying "developers who release code under the
GPL should have figured this out for themselves before deciding on that
license" is just going to discourage developers who *have* questions
(and care enough about the issue to worry) from asking them. Like you,


[1] - you know who you are :-)
[2] - Or even links to answers from other parties like the FSF, a quick 
      google isn't yielding any official looking info for me.

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