volunteer copyright assignment / licensing agreement

Jimmy Kaplowitz jimmy at spi-inc.org
Fri Feb 15 19:37:18 UTC 2013

Hi David,

You probably shouldn't list SPI as copyright holder when nobody's assigned
copyright to SPI. The mere fact of being an associated project of SPI doesn't
give SPI copyright, though it does make SPI more willing to consider voluntary
copyright assignment if specifically requested. In the case of WebKit, the
companies who show up in the copyright file usually hold copyright in
connection with their employees contributing as part of their jobs, or
sometimes based on employment legalese.

I agree with Bdale that copyright assignment to SPI is usually not the best
solution, but exceptions can exist. None happen implicitly, though.

- Jimmy Kaplowitz
jimmy at spi-inc.org

On Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 03:12:25PM -0400, David Pratt wrote:
> In our license headers we identify SPI in the copyright but together
> with those that contributing code. So there is no one copyright holder
> but a collection. We use WebKit in our project and we see this similar
> scenario where multiple folks or company that contribute each have a
> copyright under the license agreed for the project. For example, we do
> this and when contributors make changes, their copyright is added to
> the files add or modify.
> * Copyright (c) 2012 Software in the Public Interest Inc (SPI)
> * Copyright (c) 2012 David Pratt
> * Copyright (c) 2012 Mital Vora
> *
> * Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the "License");
> * you may not use this file except in compliance with the License.
> * You may obtain a copy of the License at
> *
> *   http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0
> *
> * Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing, software
> * distributed under the License is distributed on an "AS IS" BASIS,
> * WITHOUT WARRANTIES OR CONDITIONS OF ANY KIND, either express or implied.
> * See the License for the specific language governing permissions and
> * limitations under the License.
> Regards,
> David
> On Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 1:16 PM, Bdale Garbee <bdale at gag.com> wrote:
> > Stefano Zacchiroli <leader at debian.org> writes:
> >
> >> As it has been requested by Debian contributors, I'd like to know if SPI
> >> offers the possibility, to contributors of affiliated projects, to
> >> transfer copyright (or specific rights) to SPI. If yes: how?
> >
> > The answer should be yes, but I don't recall any specific incidents in
> > which SPI formally accepted transfer of copyright from an individual.
> > As a result, I think we would need to speak to our SFLC friends about
> > exactly what form such a contribution agreement should take and what
> > record keeping we need to engage in.
> >
> > Frankly, I've never been a fan of copyright assignment.  While I'm sure
> > there are cases in which it makes sense for someone to want to assign
> > their copyrights to SPI, I would want to have a per-incident discussion
> > with the individual(s) in question before we blindly start accepting
> > such assignments, to be sure the best interests of the Free Software
> > community are actually being served by such assignment.
> >
> > Bdale
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > Spi-general mailing list
> > Spi-general at lists.spi-inc.org
> > http://lists.spi-inc.org/listinfo/spi-general
> >
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