volunteer copyright assignment / licensing agreement

Stefano Zacchiroli leader at debian.org
Sun Feb 17 20:20:58 UTC 2013

On Fri, Feb 15, 2013 at 10:16:04AM -0700, Bdale Garbee wrote:
> 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.

OK, thanks for clarifying this.  If someone of the SPI board could look
into this I would appreciate. I speculate sooner or later it will come
handy --- either for Debian or for other affiliated projects.

> 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.

I'm myself radically against copyright assignments to for-profit
organizations. But I also think that assignments to entities that
satisfy two requirements---(a) being non-profits, and (b) having clear
governance rules---are an entirely different beasts.

In any case, and to be frank, Debian currently doesn't really *need*
this. I've forwarded a desire of a Debian contributor, who could
probably live without this.  Still, I do sympathize with contributors
that want to make themselves replaceable before copyright law, and want
to empower some trusted entities to act in their stead if their
copyright will ever need to be used (e.g. for license enforcement).

I speculate that SPI projects who are more development intense than
Debian (i.e. that develop a lot, rather than integrate) might need this
more than Debian does. SPI might probably benefit from anticipating this
kind of needs.  If it ever happens, Debian will be happy to benefit form
it too.

Stefano Zacchiroli  . . . . . . .  zack at upsilon.cc . . . . o . . . o . o
Maître de conférences . . . . . http://upsilon.cc/zack . . . o . . . o o
Debian Project Leader . . . . . . @zack on identi.ca . . o o o . . . o .
« the first rule of tautology club is the first rule of tautology club »
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