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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: Mon, 30 May 2011 23:14:40 +0100

On Mon, May 30, 2011 at 12:56 PM, Joerg Schilling
<address@hidden> wrote:
> James Youngman <address@hidden> wrote:
>> On Thu, May 26, 2011 at 4:29 PM, Joerg Schilling
>> <address@hidden> wrote:
>> > I am sorry, but I cannot do something that is forbidden by law. "copyright
>> > assignment" is forbidden by law in Europe.
>> You're mistaken.  This is not the case.
>> Copyrights are in fact a collection of rights which differ somewhat in
>> various jurisdictions (for example in some countries there is no moral
>> right for computer software).   However, it is reasonable to discuss
>> this in the context of the Berne convention (since only around 20
>> countries are not signatories).   Somewhat loosely the rights can be
>> termed economic rights or moral rights (see the text of the Berne
>> convention, specificially this section:
>> http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/trtdocs_wo001.html#P123_20726).
>>  Economic rights can be transferred, but moral rights cannot.
>> However, it is not illegal to transfer a moral right, it is merely
>> ineffective.   Agreements to transfer moral rights simply have no
>> effect.   Transfer of copyright rights is not forbidden.
> 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.

>        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.

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.

> 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.

> there is no need to have a "copyright assignment" unless you in the future 
> also
> plan to publish the code as closed source or unless you like to do something
> that the author would not agree with.

This is not the case.   There are a number of things that are harder
to do in the absence of a copyright assignment.   The first is to
demonstrate "Standing to sue" in a copyright infringement suit, but
I'm sure there are other reasons too.

> Finally let me ask you: would you give me a "copyright assignment" for your
> code?

This is not my code.  I have already assigned the copyright for my
past and future modifications to CSSC to the FSF.


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