Re: Licensing and copyright

The best source of existing information that I could find is the GNU GPL
FAQ (though the web site appears down at the moment):

It does not, however, address any of the points you mentioned below,
which were all things that I had envisioned for the document (except
that I hadn't thought of the Queen of England...).

Perhaps the best thing would to do would be to write a draft, and ask
the FSF to comment on it to we can ensure its accuracy. I would be
willing to bang out a first draft.


On Sat, 2004-02-21 at 10:17 +0000, Mark McLoughlin wrote:
> 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
>     Foundation.
>   + 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
>     date?
>   + 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,
> Rob.
> Cheers,
> Mark.
> [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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> foundation-list gnome org

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