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Re: Seeking input from developers: glibc copyright assignment policy.

From: Paul Smith
Subject: Re: Seeking input from developers: glibc copyright assignment policy.
Date: Tue, 15 Jun 2021 12:32:35 -0400
User-agent: Evolution 3.36.5-0ubuntu1

On Tue, 2021-06-15 at 07:03 -0500, Eric Blake wrote:
> I recall how long it took for me to get permission to sign assignment
> papers from my previous employer, for work I was doing in my spare
> time, and being able to use the DCO instead would have made my
> efforts easier at that time.

This is what concerns me (not necessarily in Eric's case per se but in
general).  I worry that people think that a DCO is a hassle-free
replacement for an employer's copyright assignment.  Maybe, in some
jurisdictions, it even can be.

But as far as I'm aware in the U.S. (and other countries) you can't
just declare that your employer doesn't have any copyright to work you
do, even on your own time.  Most employment contracts make this clear
and even when they don't spell it out I think there's a presumption
that it is the case, certainly for salaried employees.

So, I just worry people will simply sign the DCO and call it good when
they don't actually have legal rights to do that.  Sure, that may
reduce liability for copyright infringement on the project: an employer
would have to go after the individual instead, but that wouldn't
prevent the project from having to remove the infringing code and all
code that could be considered derivative from it, which could be an
enormous hassle.

Maybe I'm wrong about how the DCO works but it greatly concerns me that
we would lose this safety net: rather than doing the work up-front
directed by people who understand the law, we're distributing this work
to random individuals and relying on each of them to fully understand
the legal questions and get it right for their situation... and leave
the project holding the bag if they don't.

Have there been any opinions or whitepapers published by FOSS
organizations regarding DCOs vs. assignments, discussing their benefits
and risks?

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