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Re: Copyright/Distribution questions (Emacs/Orgmode)

From: Karl Fogel
Subject: Re: Copyright/Distribution questions (Emacs/Orgmode)
Date: Sun, 10 Mar 2013 17:18:45 -0500
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3.50 (gnu/linux)

Jambunathan K <address@hidden> writes:
>I have a query wrt to Emacs/Orgmode.
>For the impending Org-8.0 release, there two files that I had authored
>which will be bundled with it.  (Org-8.0 is not merged with Emacs yet)
>ox-html.el: It is a port of the old exporter to the new export framework
>            and requires substantial changes authored by me.  There are
>            *other* authors as well who could be counted as principals.
>ox-odt.el: This file is entirely authored by me to the tune of 99.9%
>           save for minor refactoring patches by Nicolas Goaziou and
>           maybe some trivial changes by others.
>I have some disagreements with current Orgmode maintainer and the
>community in general. 
>I would like to withdraw my pleasure in having these files distributed
>as part of Org distribution.  I would like to register my displeasure in
>a substantial way.
>More specifically, I would like to know how copyright assignment works
>for files that are not yet part of Emacs.  Is there is a way I can
>withdraw my assignment (for a substantial period - say 3-6 months) big
>enough to create a minor discomfort for the Org community.
>Please advise me privately.  Just wanted to register my general
>reservation in having these files included as part of Emacs if and when
>the need arises.
>ps: I am interested in discussing the merits or nature of my
>disagreements with Bastien or the Orgmode community in general.  I would
>like to know whether the copyright and licensing process etc to control
>how the files are distributed.

[Despite your request, I'm not sending this advice privately.]

The proper way to handle such disagreements in a free software community
is to fork the software, or propose forking it and see who follows, not
to try to retroactively impose monopolistic restrictions on distributing
the code.

You could also ask to have your name and implied endorsement removed
from the software in question.

Both of these solutions would solve your problem while not restricting
others from distributing and using the code.

As a purely legal question: I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal
advice, but I don't believe you can retroactively withdraw your
copyright assignment -- if I were the assignee, I'd ignore such a
threat, because the purpose of assignment is to prevent people from
doing what you're trying to do now.  (I'd also probably stop accepting
further contributions from you, however.)


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