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Re: [Bug-cssc] Fwd: GNU CSSC 1.3.1 is released

From: James Youngman
Subject: Re: [Bug-cssc] Fwd: GNU CSSC 1.3.1 is released
Date: Wed, 1 Jun 2011 00:20:15 +0100

On Tue, May 31, 2011 at 1:04 PM, Joerg Schilling
<address@hidden> wrote:
> James Youngman <address@hidden> wrote:
>> > The general problem is that looking at the issues with the background of an
>> > english mothertonge may give a different result than not doing so:
>> Well, perhaps that is a _general_ problem.   But it isn't a problem
>> specifically here.  The Berne convention is published in English.
> I am living in Germany, so the European law system applies and in special:
>        http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/urhg/
>        see: http://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/urhg/__29.html
>> >        The official translation for "Copyright" is "Urheberrecht"
>> >
>> > But:
>> >
>> >        Urheberrecht =  Nutzungsrechte + Autorenrechte
>> >                        (Copy rights + Authorship rights)
>> >
>> >        Copyright =     Copy rights
>> >
>> > so
>> >        Urheberrecht != Copyright
>> >
>> > and from what I have been told by lawyers...: you cannt be sure that a US 
>> > judge
>> > will regard the Berne convention or the German Urheberrecht even though he 
>> > would
>> > need to.
>> I'm not sure why you invoke a hypothetical US judge to defend your
>> claim that signing a copyright assignment would be "forbidden by law
>> in Europe".
>> In any case, the Berne Convention is now US law also, and has been
>> since March 1, 1989.
>> http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/Remarks.jsp?cnty_id=1045C
>> Even in the hypothetical case that a US judge were to ignore Berne
>> Convention Implementation Act of 1988, that still doesn't make signing
>> a copyright assignment "forbidden by law in Europe" as you suggested.
> In case I need legal advise, I usually ask lawyers......
> I did e.g. in 1994 and in order to be sure that I get a correct answer, I 
> first
> asked the local bar association that told me that there are two good lawyers
> that are specialized in "Urheberrecht and IT"... I payed one of them for an
> advise and he told me that works written before 1992/1993 when there was a
> mutual Copyright agreement between the US and Europe/Germany will not have
> protection by law in the respective other country.

Even if that were true, it still doesn't make a copyright assignment
"forbidden by law".   Since I was simply asking if you would be
willing to assign the copyright in your change to the CSSC test suite,
any potential issue of copyright protection wouldn't be relevant
(since had you agreed, you'd be assigning your copyright to the FSF,
and so issues of protection of those rights wouldn't really be

> Do you like to tell me that
> I received a wrong advise from this lawyer?

I can't reasonably make a comment on the accuracy of advice of which I
have only heard a second hand report.   In any case my knowledge of
the field is out of date; it's a good 18 years since I studied
copyright in any detail at all and even then my study was casual
rather than professional.

My working assumption is that there has perhaps been some confusion
between "unenforcable" (perhaps better: "ineffective") and "illegal".
 The first may be true of a copyright assignment in your jurisdiction
(though I'm very doubtful that this would be the case, even though in
the end that would be irrelevant anyway), but the second is not.

>> > Fortunately this is about OpenSource and if the OpenSource Definition
>> > (from http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.php) applies to some code,
>> It's not about the OSD at all.   I asked if you would be willing to
>> sign a copyright assignment and you objected on the grounds that it
>> was forbidden.   The OSD is a red herring here.
> I made an offer for collaboration and I offered you that you could use code I
> was going to write. You told me that you like to get more rights than I 
> offered.
> This looks a bit strange to me, in special as there is no need for additional
> rights in an OSS ecosystem.
> If we have been talking abut code written _for_ "CSSC", your wish may be
> reasonable. The code I did offer, however has been written for "SCCS" and thus
> is code that belongs to a different project. If you like to use it in/for your
> project, you are still welcome.

Thank you.   I am unable to use (specifically: incorporate) such code
in CSSC without a copyright assignment.  This is why I asked if you
would be willing to make such an assignment.

You responded that such a thing would be "forbidden by law" and I
attempted to reassure you that this isn't the case.  The outcome of
such a discussion is in any case moot, except in so far as it may help
you make the decision.  A positive or negative answer is by itself
sufficient, you have no obligation to me to explain the reasons for
your choice.

> BTW: could you please explain what you understand by "here" in "The OSD is a
> red herring here."?

In this case, "here" means "in the context of this discussion".


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