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Re: Emacs contributions, C and Lisp

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: Emacs contributions, C and Lisp
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2014 14:17:37 +0100
User-agent: Gnus/5.13 (Gnus v5.13) Emacs/24.4.50 (gnu/linux)

Michal Nazarewicz <address@hidden> writes:

> On Wed, Feb 19 2014, David Kastrup <address@hidden> wrote:
>> With regard to copyright assignments, you pretend that it is some
>> magic ritual of initiation.  There is nobody who'd be more glad than
>> the FSF if this kind of paperwork was without merit and unneeded.
> There are people who would argue that this kind of paperwork is in
> fact unneeded.  I admit it has merit, and I understand why lawyers
> want it, but it's not at all clear that it is worth creating this
> burden.
> SFC for example runs its GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers
> representing just a small fraction of Linux copyright holders.

Which means that a large ratio of Linux code can be misappropriated into
proprietary products without anybody bothering to complain.  In Germany,
basically _all_ Linux license violations are prosecuted based on the
netfilter code, and if I am not mistaken, that code is slated to be
replaced by a different implementation anyway.

> Even GNU does not require copyright assignment to all its projects.


> I may be wrong in my assessment, I'm not a lawyer after all,

The FSF is in constant contact with lawyers, and the GPL is a legal

> but I bet *majority* of developers, myself included, see CA as an
> unneeded burden.

The copyright assignment is not for the sake of the developers (well, it
_does_ free them of the responsibility to go after copyright violations

> We can only guess how many people dropped their patches after reading
> CA is required.


> And individuals are not even the hardest part.  I became a maintainer
> of auto-dim-other-buffers.el[1].  I would love to have it in GNU ELPA,
> but frankly, I won't even bother asking other contributors of to the
> project to sign a CA, and it's not even a complicated case -- there
> are only two other people involved -- again we can only guess how many
> projects are not contributed to Emacs because they were started
> outside of GNU Emacs and now people don't want to deal with CAs.

"not contributed to Emacs" is a red herring since you can always
distribute them yourself.  They are not distributed along with the core
Emacs, and the core Emacs is copyrighted by the FSF: it's the principal
editor and IDE of the GNU project.

> And we did not even start with the fact that some people oppose CAs as
> a matter of principle.
> [1] https://github.com/mina86/auto-dim-other-buffers.el

And other people oppose the GPL as a matter of principle, and most
people opposing a copyright assignment would not dream of going after
violations of their copyright themselves, thus implicitly opposing the
GPL as well.  A GPL that is not enforced is pointless; you could be
using the MIT license in the first place.  The FSF retains several
copyright-assigned projects on which it will make sure the GPL has

So in essence you are asking the FSF to stop being the FSF.  You are not
the first one to do so, and you will not be the last one.  Do you really
think that after 25 years of the GPL's use in FSF-governed projects you
are bringing something new to the table here?

David Kastrup

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