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Re: Incorporating patches into GNU Emacs

From: Bill Wohler
Subject: Re: Incorporating patches into GNU Emacs
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2003 23:40:56 -0700

Steve Youngs <address@hidden> writes:

> |--==> "BW" == Bill Wohler <address@hidden> writes:
>   BW> So someone sends you a cool patch to put into Emacs. You've
>   BW> signed the copyright assignment papers and can check code into
>   BW> Emacs; they have not and can not.
>   BW> Can you simply incorporate their patch and give them credit in
>   BW> the ChangeLog?
> The way I understand it, no.  
> The author of the original code needs to assign the copyright to the
> FSF.  For various reasons, the FSF _must_ hold the copyright on every
> single line of code it distributes.  You can't assign a copyright that
> you have no legal right to.  Only the guy with the cool patch, or
> possibly his employer can do that.  And just because you incorporate
> his code into your own doesn't alter the fact that you don't hold the
> copyright to that code.
> You could also quite possibly be breaching cool patch author's
> copyright.  But that's highly unlikely if he has sent you the patch,
> although his employer might have a claim on it.

Strictly speaking, you're probably right.

Still, I find it hard to believe that a) every Emacs user on the planet
has submitted papers to the FSF or b) no patches have been incorporated
into Emacs from folks who haven't submitted papers. Where's the middle

Bill Wohler <address@hidden>  http://www.newt.com/wohler/  GnuPG ID:610BD9AD
Maintainer of comp.mail.mh FAQ and MH-E. Vote Libertarian!
If you're passed on the right, you're in the wrong lane.

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