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Why does the FSF need copyright *assignments*?

From: Bernd Jendrissek
Subject: Why does the FSF need copyright *assignments*?
Date: Mon, 28 Jul 2003 11:54:40 +0200

Hash: SHA1

Hi all

Why do GNU projects require copyright *assignments* to the FSF before
being able to accept contributions?

I thought one of the principal purposes of the GPL was to allow the
creation of derivative works.  Why isn't it sufficient for a contributor
to simply slap the GPL on their patch, which project maintainers can then
simply apply to create a derivative work?

I'm guessing the problem is that the rights to the derivative work are
owned *jointly* by the authors of the two works, and that this complicates
legal action should it become necessary.  Is this correct?

There are two separate issues here - let me be clear about what I'm asking:

1. Transfer of ownership of the rights to a work (the patch)
2. Keeping record that the contributor indeed has the rights so s/he can
   licence it at all.

For this message, I don't care about 2 - I want to know why 1 is necessary.

bernd, who started appreciating the FSF bureaucracy in a big way ever
since the SCO vs. The World farce started.

- -- - at last it even exists!
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