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Re: Copyright/Distribution questions (Emacs/Orgmode)

From: Jambunathan K
Subject: Re: Copyright/Distribution questions (Emacs/Orgmode)
Date: Tue, 12 Mar 2013 23:18:02 +0530
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.3.50 (gnu/linux)

Richard Stallman <address@hidden> writes:

>      > Files in Org mode are already on a track to be included in Emacs.
>     By which you mean "it is the FSF legal staff's professional opinion
> You have misunderstood completely.  I'm not talking about anyone's
> opinion.  I am telling you my policy decision.

My case opens up some grey areas and I am entitled to know clearly the
FSF's official position (rather than the intent) on questions I raise
below.  I also request that the answers be communicated privately to me
and also other contributors when they come forward to support FSF

(Stay with me as I articulate my position)

As some one has raised the question, 

I would really like that FSF office holders clearly explain to
contributors in plain english what a future assignment would amount

For example, the clerk clearly indicated to me in plain english that I
should contact her office should my employer change.

For example, the assignment document says and I quote 

    ,---- (see Item 1a)
    | agrees to assign and hereby assign to FSF, Developer's copyright in
    | changes and/or enhancements to the suite of programs known as GNU EMACS 

1. When does an assignment come to effect.  (See my other mail about an
   intent and an act that effects the intent.)  

   My strong contention is that it comes into effect in the act of
   committing the files to GNU ELPA or Emacs repo.  

   Distributed development is norm rather than exception these days and
   it is likely that the files are "prepared" and "committed to" in a
   local private repo maintained with any of the *-hubs and *-forges or
   in repositories like that of Org's which is outside the
   administrative control of FSF or the Emacs maintainers.  Org is NOT
   Emacs.  Org is A PART OF Emacs.  The difference is very important and

   A random Joe can say his random file is part of Emacs.  That doesn't
   make the file part of Emacs.  The Emacs maintainers has to agree and
   accept that it is part of Emacs.  A file becomes part of Emacs only
   when it is committed in to Emacs's official tree.

   My contributions to Orgmode aren't accepted in to Emacs.  There is an
   in principle acceptance but a commit of questionable nature can be
   purged before the Org sources are merged.  There is an intent to
   merge with Emacs but that intent is not effected until and unless the
   merge itself has happened.

   A file is an ongoing work.  It is possible that a file is in a state
   of flux as it is edited and the copyright header might reflect wrong
   years.  It is the release manager's duty to audit and tidy up the
   sources before a public release of the sources.

   So the act of public release is also significant when the source
   tarballs are declared fit to be downloaded and used.  The act of
   public release is significant and should be contrasted with
   file-in-a-state-of-flux in a working development tree.

2. What programs fall under the suite?

3. How would a developer inform that he wants some work to remain GPLed
   but not without having a transfer of copyright to FSF.  There should
   be exceptions right?

4. A developer isn't interested in contributing to certain projects -
   because of his own preferences.  How would he exclude that his work
   on certain programs under suite wouldn't be considered for inclusion
   in Emacs.

5. How would developer terminate the future assingment.  There should be
   a way to terminate right.

> If someone asks us, as a favor, not to include in Emacs some of the
> code he has assigned, we might in some situations grant his request --
> but not if we have already started including it.

FSF reserves certain rights (of enforcement).  It is upto FSF to decide
whether it will actually exercise those rights.

I feel there is a grey area here - My files are not part of any
officially released source tarball, it is not accepted and hence not
part of Emacs.

Let me reiterate my position that the assignment hasn't actually taken
effect and that by pre-emptively informing FSF beforehand, I have
exercised my moral right to dictate how my own work - produced with my
own personal resources - be used.  (My work will be GPL and I have no
plans to act in a way that is opposed to license that I have agreed to.)

So my request to *NOT* include my work in to Emacs still stands.

> As for what judges might decide about some other question, I am
> confident that all a person's changes to Emacs are assigned, and I
> will discuss the details with lawyers if I see a need.

Please discuss with lawyers and let me know when a file *actually
becomes* part of Emacs.

Jambunathan K.

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