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Re: The copyright issue

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: The copyright issue
Date: Mon, 09 Aug 2010 15:40:34 +0900

address@hidden writes:

 > If it is indeed GPL software.  IIRC, somebody once contributed code
 > that his employer later claimed was not his to contribute.  Having
 > clear ownership avoids such hassles.

The assignment has nothing to do with that, however.  What's necessary
in that case is not an assignment by the author, but a disclaimer of
interest (ownership) by the employer.

 > At the very least, the contributor must claim to be the owner; if
 > that's not true, it's not the FSF's fault.

An assignment clearly involves a claim by the contributor to be an

All in all, the assignment policy can't be justified as a matter of
"prudence".  The assignment itself only minimally decreases the risk
of unclear ownership to the project.  The employer disclaimers are
important for risk management, but the assignments are pretty clearly
mainly desirable in order that the FSF may carry out its active
missions of defending existing GPL software against license violations
and copyright infringement, encouraging use of the GPL for software
previously covered by other licenses (whether proprietary or
permissive), and (perhaps the largest use in practice) smooth
execution of changes in licensing strategy (eg, the introduction of
the FDL for existing manuals).

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