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Re: [Savannah-register-public] [task #14621] Submission of Graph Model L

From: Brook Milligan
Subject: Re: [Savannah-register-public] [task #14621] Submission of Graph Model Library
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2017 10:07:28 -0600

> On Sep 21, 2017, at 5:15 AM, Ineiev <address@hidden> wrote:
> Follow-up Comment #7, task #14621 (project administration):
>> Please study what is known about the different legal situations in
>> different countries.
> I'm sorry, such a study would take too much time; could you point
> out the key differences relevant to our discussion?

See below.

>> There are in fact differences with respect to
>> what is allowable under copyright law, who has standing to seek
>> remedies, etc.
> Yes, but in most countries copyright law complies with the Berne
> Convention, and it says that the authors shall enjoy economic
> rights unless they transfer their rights to someone else.

It is true that the Berne Convention has 172 parties, and that that group 
likely includes all relevant jurisdictions for practical purposes. However, it 
is not at all the case that the Berne Conventions protects “economic rights”.  
Neither does US or German copyright law; I doubt any copyright law does.  
Specifically, the Berne Convention protects the following rights: translation, 
making adaptations and arrangements, public performance, recitation, broadcast, 
or other communication, reproduction, and use as basis for audiovisual work.  
The US law protects rights expressed slightly differently: reproduction, 
preparation of derivative works, distribution of copies, public performance, 
public display, and digital transmission.  The details of how the requirements 
of the Berne Convention are met, i.e., the laws in place that actually protect 
these rights, can and do differ among jurisdictions.  For example, in the US 
one can transfer copyright ownership, whereas in Germany that is not possible 
to do.  Who is able to seek remedies and what remedies are possible depend on 
the details of local law.  Even worse, the identification of which local law 
prevails is not even clear for works (such as software under development 
worldwide) that are published widely and simultaneously.  One relevant 
consequence of this is that in US courts contributors to software only have 
standing for their own contribution in the absence of some procedure that 
clearly establishes the right for some person or entity to act on their behalf. 
 The details of this are different in German courts.  They are almost certainly 
different in other jurisdictions as well; after all, all the copyright laws for 
the 172 parties to the Berne Convention were crafted locally within the context 
of each legal system.  The Berne Convention is not a legal system; it just 
states that certain rights must be protected and provides for certain minimum 
protections.  Individual parties are responsible for implementing that.  All of 
these aspects create a large degree of uncertainty for all copyrightable works, 
but especially ones that are collaboratively produced such as free software.

Again, none of this is about “economic rights”.  Indeed, that is a red-herring 
with respect to a discussion of rights to use software freely.

>> Because it is released under the AGPL, the
>> software will always be free.
>> Nothing in the policy I have identified conflicts with anyone's
>> ability to maintain the free status of a GPLed program (or library in
>> this case). After all, it is released under the GPL and thus by design
>> cannot be made "unfree".
> If "Us" decide to release a proprietary version of the library,
> the library in that version will be nonfree. The only people
> who could prevent this are contributors---but if they sign that
> agreement, they can’t.

This is fundamentally irrelevant to whether this is free software.  Yes, all 
sorts of hypothetical things can occur in the future.  However, none of those 
activities have any bearing on the rights of people wishing to use released 
code, contributions to that released code, derivative works, or anything else.  
Once released under the (A)GPL, those rights are guaranteed forever.  That is 
the entire point of developing those licenses and the entire point of the many 
documents promulgated by the FSF.  Thus, any development of a Savannah project, 
even with the contributor agreement that I am using, remains free software.  
These contributor agreements cannot change that.  (Of course, more draconian 
agreements might, but they are not being used; all contributor agreements are 
not equal and all are not bad.)  They just make it clear who has standing to 
protect the freedoms encapsulated within the license.  Without that clarity, we 
are at the mercy of an ad hoc interpretation by a legal system that may not be 
supportive.  Avoiding such a situation is actually strengthening the freedoms 
that users gain from free software.

>> As for contributor, their stated aim is the
>> following: "The goal of is to develop the
>> legal and technical infrastructure that will enable open source
>> collaborative projects to receive,
> Savannah doesn't support open source
> <>, we support
> free software.
> These are different things
> <>.

Yes, the FSF has gone to great lengths to differentiate free from open source 
software.  Those differences are abundantly clear.  However, that does not bear 
on the point of whether or not a process that is supportive of open source 
software is also supportive of free software.  The legal landscape applies to 
free software just as much as it applies to open source software.  Means of 
assuring legal clarity that allows protection of one may well be beneficial to 
protecting the other.  There is ample evidence from the analyses that I have 
cited and described in this thread to indicate that is the case.  Furthermore, 
the approach I am using is not in conflict with the goal of free software as 
espoused so clearly by the FSF.  All releases and contributions are forever 
protected; that is, in fact, the stated goal of the FSF as well as yourself.

>> the goal is to create an environment in which collaborative
>> projects can thrive
> People can collaborate in proprietary projects.  Collaboration by
> itself is not our goal, our goal is freedom.

This thread has strayed far from the assessment of whether or not a submitted 
library meets the standards set out by Savannah and should be accepted.  You 
have published a set of requirements and a set of guidelines that are intended 
to aid the review process.  The FSF has published abundant statements regarding 
what constitutes free software and the rationale behind the value of it.  I 
have created a project in good faith that is appropriately licensed, has 
appropriately licensed dependencies, and makes no restrictions on ongoing 
development based upon either the releases or potential contributions.  There 
is nothing here that is in contradiction to the guidelines that have been 
provided for Savannah projects.

Please address the question at hand.

Thank you very much.


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