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Re: Effect of transfer of copyright on free software licenses?


From: Tim Smith
Subject: Re: Effect of transfer of copyright on free software licenses?
Date: Sun, 19 Jul 2009 03:25:47 -0700
User-agent: MT-NewsWatcher/3.5.3b2 (Intel Mac OS X)

In article <address@hidden>,
 Tim Smith <address@hidden> wrote:

> Suppose I create a copyrighted work. I release it under a license such 
> as GPLv2. You use it, in a way that requires permission of the copyright 
> holder, but is in accord with GPLv2, so you are OK.
> 
> Suppose now that I transfer the copyright to someone else.
> 
> Do you now have something to worry about if the copyright assignee 
> wishes to stop you from copying, modifying, and distributing the 
> software?

Turns out there is something relevant, at least for people in the US, in 
the copyright statute, in one of those boring parts most people 
overlook. 17 USC 205(e):

   Priority between conflicting transfer of ownership and nonexclusive 
   license. A nonexclusive license, whether recorded or not, prevails 
   over a conflicting transfer of copyright ownership if the license is 
   evidenced by a written instrument signed by the owner of the rights 
   licensed or such owner's duly authorized agent, and if--

   (1) the license was taken before execution of the transfer; or

   (2) the license was taken in good faith before recordation of the 
   transfer and without notice of it.

I wonder how many open source projects provide a written instrument 
signed by the copyright owner?

-- 
--Tim Smith


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