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List Archive: gentoo-trustees
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To: Grant Goodyear <g2boojum@g.o>
From: Daniel Ostrow <dostrow@g.o>
Subject: Re: joint copyright agreement
Date: Mon, 19 Sep 2005 22:21:25 -0400
> > For all those who don't want to sign something because they feel that it
> > is against the spirit of free software they don;t understand what is
> > actually at stake. We are becoming more popular by the day and
> > eventually we may have to defend something that is rightfully ours. As
> > it stands we are on VERY soft ground if it were to happen tomorrow.
> If _what_ were to happen tomorrow?  Some at least semi-realistic
> scenarios would be helpful here.

In the world of free software all that can be done to truly breach a
copyright is to reuse code under a different copyright (excluding the
original) or a different license. With an agreement we could prevent
both of these.

This is especially important when it comes to re-use in commercial
software. As the copyright holder it would be our responsibility to tell
XYZ Corp. that they have to release their proprietary package manager
under the GPL and give credit via the original copyright if we found
that they were using sections of portage code in said package manager or
remove our code from their product.

In the domain of free-software all it enforces is that the foundation
would have the right to enforce a change of license, or deny it's use if
outside the bounds of its license. Lets say someone release derivative
code of genkernel under the MIT license, we would have the legal
authority to force the party to change it to the GPL or remove the

These all may seem like far fetched things but they do happen in the
software world. When it comes right down to it we can't EVER protect
anything that we don't have either a copyright or a license for.
Personally I wouldn't like to see XYZ Corp. making money off of our
portage team, and I wouldn't like to see code from genkernel distributed
under a different license without credit given to the original authoring
bodies. Without the agreement we can prevent neither.

> Also, is that sort of copyright agreement something that we can actually
> enforce?  What keeps a dev from starting up a project on berlios, for
> example, with a group of other people who may or may not be devs,
> writing a replacement for portage or genkernel or such, and then because
> it's a particularly well-written piece of software having it be the
> default special-magic-widget in Gentoo?

This isn't the point. We aren't saying that they automated kernel
building utility used by Gentoo is and can only be genkernel. We are
saying that as long as genkernel is around we want to be able to make
sure we have some control of its (and it's derivative works) usage and
license. Anyone is free to come up with a bigger better badder
portage/genkernel/whathaveyou (and we are free to use it) so long as it
doesn't contain derivative works or if it does that it follows the
letter of the appropriate license.

> I don't mean to sound negative.  I just assume that if I'm not yet
> convinced entirely, then our devs might not be either.

All I'm saying is that a good portion of our duties as the Board of
Trustees, specifically the protection of the intellectual property of
The Gentoo Project, can't be carried out if there is no intellectual
property. Without the agreement NONE of the code can be protected by the
foundation that duty would have to fall to the authors of the work, and
by and large in order to have an effective suit in court every author
who's work was contained in the software in question would have to be
present for the suit to be valid. Part of the whole point is to
consolidate the copyright so that one body can protect it instead of
many non-exclusive bodies. 

Not speaking for the open-source community but most corporations require
this to prevent's the same thing in the open-source
world...even though the software is "free" it can still be pirated.

Sure we still have the trademark over the name and the artwork, but
without having lawful co-control over the central code of what makes
Gentoo Gentoo then why even bother with that.


gentoo-trustees@g.o mailing list

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