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Re: Copyright assignment requirement

From: Helge Hess
Subject: Re: Copyright assignment requirement
Date: Sat, 31 May 2014 13:18:41 +0200

Specifically with git I don’t see the problem with this (the assignment doesn’t 
stop you from starting to work on stuff and publishing changes).

People can just clone the stuff into an own branch and do whatever they like. 
Then  once a ‘worthy’ feature is finished, you can start the discussion about 
the assignment and whether the feature would go into the GNUstep master. IMO 
there has to be some documented proof that a contributor is fine with at least 
the license.

Wrt Fred: Yes, you can’t transfer the copyright in Germany. But this is of 
little relevance here, as the FSF form also transfers the ‘entire rights’ (/ 
IP). This ensures that someone can’t step up and restrict the license 
(Whether this specific form would hold up in court is of course a question for 
a lawyer - but I think the idea of the contract is clear ;-)

Using git would probably also improve the situation with entities/companies 
which simply can’t/won't assign the IP (but are still fine with releasing stuff 
as GPL/LGPL). E.g. our Skyrix company is like that. The user could then choose 
whether he wants the pristine FSF master branch, or an augmented one (which is 
still free software!), but with different copyright holders.

Branches like:
/develop - FSF assigned code only, dev branch
/master  - FSF assigned code only, stable branch
/contrib - upstream contributions, potentially w/o an assignment yet (or never)

Of course this reduces the pressure to assign, but IMHO would at the same time 
increase contributions in the main repository. Trivial stuff like bug fixes 
could then even be rewritten by people with an assignment, w/o requiring the 
original dev to assign a copyright.
I guess it would be the task of the GNUstep project manager to convince devs of 
important features to assign the IP ;-) And then build FSF-assigned releases 
with features which can be integrated.


On May 30, 2014, at 6:29 PM, Gregory Casamento <address@hidden> wrote:
> When we discussed the prospect of moving to GitHub someone suggested that it 
> "would invite contributions from nonassigned members of the community."   I'm 
> wondering if this is a bad thing.
> I have long had a problem with the assignment requirement as it limits 
> participation in a project which already has limited participation due to 
> it's focused nature.  
> Would it not be a good idea to open up contributions to the world at large 
> and allow unassigned contributions into the project?
> What problems would this solve?  I believe we would have a larger variety of 
> people contributing to gnustep and it would ultimately remove what some see 
> as a barrier to entry since some people don't want to disclaim or assign 
> their copyrights.
> This is especially pertinent to the move to GitHub since I have noticed that 
> when the mirror was running there were a number of forks of the repos and a 
> number of pull requests after it was up for a while.    Btw, I was not 
> confusing git with GitHub.  GitHub is a social platform for allowing coders 
> to collaborate.  This is why I think they move would be a good idea.  
> Let me know if you guys have any thoughts. 
> GC 

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