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To: Seemant Kulleen <seemant@g.o>
From: Daniel Ostrow <dostrow@g.o>
Subject: Re: joint copyright agreement
Date: Tue, 20 Sep 2005 10:26:14 -0400
On Tue, 2005-09-20 at 07:25 -0400, Seemant Kulleen wrote:
> On Mon, Sep 19, 2005 at 10:37:38PM -0400, Daniel Ostrow wrote:
> > Oh and one other important distinction. As I forgot to address the
> > question of "Why should the genkernel developers need to sign this
> > agreement if some future wizbang genkernel replacement developed on
> > berlios infra doesn't have to?"
> Coming back to grant's point a bit.  There are projects that were/are
> developed entirely on non-gentoo infrastructure (I believe the eselect
> stuff, for example), yet is becoming default on gentoo systems
> (opengl-update, for starters, has gone the way of the dodo, to be
> replaced by eselect).
> How does this agreement play to things like that?  If eselect goes on
> (and based on its technical merits, there is every reason that it
> should) to become the default tool in gentoo, then where does that leave
> us?  I'm with Grant on this: I'm not convinced.

The question isn't whether the tool is useful, or for that matter
default. That really doesn't matter. As far as I'm concerned the
question is whether it is an official Gentoo project, that is the
distinction I am making. If it is an official project we need a way to
protect it. I have no problem whatsoever with having eselect (and it's
modules), genkernel, portage, etc. as external non-official projects
(again even having their code on our infra). The problem is as long as
they are official unless there is an agreement such as the one outlined
we cannot protect the interests of the developers who have worked on the

All I'm saying is that I believe that code developed as an official
Gentoo project needs to have the protection of the foundation and the
only way to achieve this is to hold a copyright or license for said

It's an all or nothing game there. Either official projects have to be
100% covered or they are covered not at all and I personally think that
it would be irresponsible to leave the code open for what is essentially
theft when we have the ability to protect it. That being said it would
be entirely up to the developers in question, they should feel free not
to sign the agreement and remove the official status of their project.

The part that I am missing is what would be the downside. I have yet to
hear anything other then "I feel icky about assigning my copyright to
someone else." What is it that makes you feel icky? What do you fear
could happen under such circumstances? Once we have a clear cut
understanding on that the wording of the document can be changed to
allay those fears. Again there is nothing insidious about this can do people no harm.

The very very very worst case scenario:

Gentoo Dev Joe Smith develops some portage code. Since portage is an
official project he is required to sign the agreement. He then leaves
the project and reuses that exact same code in another project under a
different (heck even closed source) license. We find out about it and
are put in the pickle of having to enforce the original copyright, since
it is indeed an all or nothing game. In this case we have to protect the
interests of the project (and the open source movement) as a whole
instead of the interests of one developer.

That is it. The worst thing that could happen is having to enforce the
spirit under which the code was originally developed. Unfortunately in
the case above what Joe Smith did is illegal, there is absolutely no
question about that. It's just that without the agreement there would be
no way to enforce that legality in court. It's a strange thing to hear
but Joe Smith could effectively pirate his own code.

This is not to say that Joe Smith doesn't have the right to reuse the
code. The code is GPL so he can take it, and Brian's and Jason's and
whoever else's code and reuse it to his hearts content. All it is saying
is that he cannot change the license under which that code and
derivative code is released and he has to include the original copyright
in the works that stem from it. Furthermore in the event that he did
change the license/copyright we would have the right (and the
obligation) to enforce the original copyright in a court of law.

Daniel Ostrow
Gentoo Foundation Board of Trustees

gentoo-trustees@g.o mailing list

Re: joint copyright agreement
-- Grant Goodyear
joint copyright agreement
-- Corey Shields
Re: joint copyright agreement
-- Deedra Waters
Re: joint copyright agreement
-- Daniel Ostrow
Re: joint copyright agreement
-- Grant Goodyear
Re: joint copyright agreement
-- Daniel Ostrow
Re: joint copyright agreement
-- Daniel Ostrow
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