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Re: Regarding copyright assignment to FSF

From: Ivan Shmakov
Subject: Re: Regarding copyright assignment to FSF
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2021 03:42:47 +0000

>>>>> On 2021-08-12 12:18:20 +1000, Damien Zammit wrote:
>>>>> On 11/8/21 11:01 pm, Ludovic Courtès wrote:

        This seem somewhat off-topic for the lists, so I’m open to
        suggestions on what other forum to use (should anyone wish
        to continue this thread.)  My suggestion is, as usual,
        to use a Usenet newsgroup, such as comp.misc, for the purpose.
        (See http://www.aioe.org/ for a free, no registration needed,
        IPv4-only newsserver; or http://www.eternal-september.org/ for
        free registration, IPv6 + IPv4 one.)

 >> It would be interesting to consider dropping the copyright assignment
 >> requirement for Hurd/Mach/MiG.  For what remains primarily a hobby
 >> project, this looks to me like a hindrance more than anything else.

 > I imagine it is slightly inconvenient for new contributors, but not a
 > hindrance in my opinion.

        I’m going to concur; there’s some delay, sure, but not that much
        of actual effort on the part of the new contributor.  Unless, of
        course, one’s employer is uncooperative, but I’m afraid that
        can’t be helped.

 > It ensures that FSF has complete control of the licensing.

        And enforcement.

        I’d argue that in a better world, no copyright assignment would
        be necessary (nor would be GPL, but that’s another matter), as
        anyone would be able to bring an infringement case to the court
        entirely by themselves.  As it is, however, some considerations

        As I understand it (though IANAL), there’re two parts to this
        story.  First of all, copyright enforcement is, in general, a
        process that itself requires certain effort.  Do you have time
        to spare on filing a suit?  Will you have some more to see it
        through?  Do you know a good lawyer to hire, or do you have the
        necessary skills to represent yourself in the court?  What remedy
        will you seek?

        Moreover, /copyleft/ enforcement is tricky by itself.  Copyright
        was devised, basically, as a legal tool for author to sue his
        publisher for royalties.  As such, even though that does seem
        to slowly change, the first question of the court for your newly-
        brought GPL-infringement case would be: what sum, in your opinion,
        does the company owe you?  Are you prepared to answer that?

        Given the above, I’m inclined to think that assigning copyright
        to a party legally prepared to fight for it to be a sensible
        choice /whether it is required or not./  And /especially/ for
        hobby projects; for I presume that for something you do for
        living, you’ll be quite in position to estimate damages arising
        from someone infringing your copyright.

        From here, we may try to rank different charities on how well
        they handle their enforcement cases.  My guess is that FSF will
        come near the top.

        The other part concerns one’s employer, and the terms of the
        contract.  For instance, the contract I’m currently under says
        that I’m entitled to copyright on any and all works I create,
        /unless/ I’ve been specifically directed by the employer to
        create any given work.

        From what I’ve heard, however, some contracts allow the
        /employer/ (variant: school) to claim copyright over any work
        created by the employee during the term of the contract.  In
        this case, it’s arguably better for all parties involved to have
        the employer’s position clarified and known.  Copyright
        assignment is one, though perhaps not the only, way it can be done.

FSF associate member #7257  http://am-1.org/~ivan/

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