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Re: Unauthorized Octave package taking over

From: Olaf Till
Subject: Re: Unauthorized Octave package taking over
Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2019 19:48:44 +0100
User-agent: NeoMutt/20170113 (1.7.2)

On Sun, Nov 03, 2019 at 10:38:33PM -0700, Dirk Schmidt wrote:
> Dear John W., dear Carnë, dear Olaf,
> I would like to let you know that I am still maintaining the FITS package on 
> Octave Forge and that I was actually about to commit and release a new 
> version 2.0 when I saw that John Donoghue has very recently been taking this 
> package over. I have never received a message by John in which he reached out 
> directly and personally to me, asking if he can take the package over, and I 
> never announced him as a successor.
> I e-mailed him a couple days ago, that I am still the maintainer of this 
> package and that I’ve been preparing a new version. I also wrote him, that 
> I’m open to collaborate and asked him to not commit to the FITS repository 
> without further communication. I have not received a response to this, and so 
> I’m shocked to see today that John has committed more changes to this 
> repository and even seems to be preparing a release of my package.
> Despite the changes that he made at his discretion, he also put himself as 
> the copyright holder of files that I have written. I would like to let you 
> know that I have not transferred my copyright to him, and that John Donoghue 
> has no legal rights on my code other than what is granted to everybody by the 
> GPL. I’m sure you agree that I do not and cannot gain the copyright of a 
> GPL’d software by modifying it.
> Since I have not received a response by John Donoghue yet, I do not know 
> where this is going and what his view on this matter is, and so I would like 
> to ask you to not release any new version of the FITS package that John 
> Donoghue submits. In case John Donoghue submits the package under a different 
> name, I would like to ask you to not release that package if it contains 
> anything that I have written and John Donoghue claims copyright for.
> Let me close by emphasizing that I appreciate any effort to make the FITS 
> package better that is made in a respectful and collaborative way.
> Sorry for the trouble and thanks for your attention.
> Best regards,
> Dirk


I think your reaction is inadequate. Your last commit to the fits
package at Octave Forge was 2015. Starting January 2019, maintainance
of the fits package at Octave Forge has been discussed with several
emails. In each of theses emails, your email address (the same as the
one you write from now) has been mentioned explicitly as a recipient
address. Since we never got a response from you, and since we didn't
find an external repository for fits, we decided to take the package

It may well be that you really didn't get our emails by some unlucky
chance. But I think you can't blame us for this. AFAICS, JohnD has
done changes in the last days which are large compared with what was
done before. It was well justified to mention him as the current

If this controversy can't be solved peacefully, I'll take the decision
to revert your last changes and to block your write access. If you
really, by some chance, had the plan to re-start your maintanance
efforts just now (this may well be the case), please co-ordinate your
efforts with JohnD and explain how your planned changes fit with his
efforts for more Matlab compatibility. Then, IMHO, a shared
maintainership may be adequate.


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