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Re: Copyright/Distribution questions (Emacs/Orgmode)

From: Stephen J. Turnbull
Subject: Re: Copyright/Distribution questions (Emacs/Orgmode)
Date: Mon, 11 Mar 2013 21:53:07 +0900

Andreas Röhler writes:

 > Anyway, stressing the need of copyright assignment might spread the
 > illusion, a free software project might require that procedure in
 > order to distribute code.  What the case at stake seems to
 > demonstrate so far.

Please, Andreas, you are completely off-base.  It is well-known that
the assignment policy is purely a legal strategy recommended by some
of the best lawyers in the business, and that's all.  It has nothing
to do with software freedom except that it strengthens the FSF's
ability to enforce its copyright in Emacs, which is the only legal
tool it has for protecting Emacs' freedom.[1]

It's true that Emacs' hardline "no assignment, no commit" policy
leaves it unable to incorporate some useful code, but that's always
been true, and accepted as a necessary evil.

AFAICT misconceptions to the contrary are not widespread, especially
now that many projects are turning to assignment policies (especially
in the wake of the "SCO v. Linux" fiasco).

[1]  It also allows the FSF to change licenses when necessary, a
prominent example being fixing the "unchangeable anonymous Emacs doc
license" bug by changing the license of the manual to the FDL,
something which XEmacs cannot easily do for its own manual due to
multiple ownership (most of whom dislike the FDL).  But that is not
necessary to software freedom, although it arguably improves it.

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