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Re: copyright and incorporating code from mailing list posts

From: David Kastrup
Subject: Re: copyright and incorporating code from mailing list posts
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 2006 22:50:17 +0200
User-agent: Gnus/5.11 (Gnus v5.11) Emacs/22.0.50 (gnu/linux) writes:

> David Kastrup wrote:
>> writes:
>> > I assume that all committers on a given project put their names
>> > in the license header of the files that they modify.
>> Rarely.
> Hm. Whoops. I'd forgotten about copyright assignment for GNU
> projects.  For other projects though (where everyone supposedly
> keeps their own copyrights), that sounds like a problem.

One has to keep track of the involved copyrights.  This is usually
done in the change logs.

> Actually, where a large number of folks all have their own
> copyrights for a given project, I don't see how that could
> work. It's not like you could conceivably round them all up and get
> them to show up in court if they actually had to legally defend
> their collective licensing terms...  (?)

Why would you?  Anybody who has his copyright violated can sue.  The
problem is that the smaller the amount of code for which you sue, the
smaller will be the value of your case.  And it will be easy for a
potential violator to come into compliance with _you_ by just throwing
out and rewriting the code passages _you_ contributed.

> Would you suggest that most free software projects should probably
> have no more than a handful of copyright holders?

It depends on how important you think it to be able to defend your
licensing in court.

> How about when you inherit a project from someone else who may
> not've kept very good track of contributors?

It is basically a mess.

David Kastrup, Kriemhildstr. 15, 44793 Bochum

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