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Re: 9th Cir. License Primer

From: RJack
Subject: Re: 9th Cir. License Primer
Date: Wed, 30 Mar 2011 09:43:24 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 6.1; en-US; rv: Gecko/20110303 Thunderbird/3.1.9

As the SFLC and Erik Andersen are learning to their dismay, a valid
Copyright Office registration of an open source project such as a
version of BusyBox requires the registration of all the *individual*
contributors' work all the way back to the original author's initial
contribution. In order for a complex and evolving derivative work "as a
whole" to be registered, each recursive, preexisting version must also
be registered -- a virtually impossible task when multiple authors are
involved see for example:

"[5] Morris contends that the holding in Streetwise Maps, Inc. v.
Vandam, Inc., 159 F.3d 739, 747 (2d Cir. 1998), that the registration of
a derivative work meets the jurisdictional requirements of 411(a) in a
suit for infringement of the original work where the claimant owns the
copyright in both, requires us to find that if Cond Nast was a
"copyright owner" of Morris's articles at the time it registered the
issues of Allure in which they appeared, then those articles are
registered for the purposes of 411(a). See Woods v. Universal Studios,
Inc., 920 F. Supp. 62, 64 (S.D.N.Y. 1996), cited in Streetwise Maps, 159
F.3d at 747. We disagree. In Streetwise Maps, the plaintiff apparently
owned all of the rights to the original work at the time it registered
the copyright. See 159 F.3d at 746-47. In this case, it is undisputed
that Cond Nast owned only some of the rights to Morris's articles at the
time it registered the relevant issues of Allure."; MORRIS v. BUSINESS
CONCEPTS, INC., 283 F.3d 502 (2d Cir. 2001).

This leaves the remaining possibility that an individual contributor may
register with the Copyright Office only his own *exclusive* contribution
of source code. This requires submitting for registration the source
code files *not* modified or patched by other project members. The next
looming question is how do you find and compare an individual author's
contribution in thousands to possibly millions of bytes of object code
in some executable program?

The chances of a GPL project's enforcement in a federal court is dead
long before the judge ever reads the GPL.

RJack :)

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