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Re: Please explain the FSF copyright assignment thing

From: Filipe Silva
Subject: Re: Please explain the FSF copyright assignment thing
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2017 16:23:24 -0300

Ok, now I finally understand.  

but this must be explained in a clear, visible way. This is not at all clear, anywhere. 

What a sad state of affairs we are in regarding these legal aspects.

Thank you. 

On Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 4:12 PM, Yuri Khan <address@hidden> wrote:
On Fri, Jul 14, 2017 at 12:16 AM, Filipe Silva <address@hidden> wrote:

> With the recent activity regarding RMS wishing that someone would come up
> and write a replacement for magit that could be bundled inside emacs, and
> give FSF the whole copyright assignment, I cannot help but be intrigued:
> what good do these required copyright assignments do to the free software
> community?

If you write a package and distribute it under GPL, a malicious user
can use your code in a derived work and distribute that under a
non-free license, in violation of GPL.

If you have assigned copyright to FSF, then FSF can sue that violator
and have a probability of winning and forcing them to either publish
their improvements under GPL, or stop distributing their derived work.

On the other hand, if you hold the copyright, you will probably not
have the resources and/or experience to sue, the violator will go
unpunished, and may successfully compete with you as far as detracting
users from your project.

One specific case is if you yourself go evil and decide to stop
distributing your package freely and make it non-free. As a copyright
holder, you legally can do that. If you are the dominating contributor
of your package, many of your users will stay with the new evil you.
And minor contributors will probably not sue because see previous
paragraph. These things actually happened.

Thus, assigning copyright to FSF protects the project against you going evil.

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