volunteer copyright assignment / licensing agreement

Ian Jackson ijackson at chiark.greenend.org.uk
Tue Feb 19 18:36:59 UTC 2013

Jimmy Kaplowitz writes ("Re: volunteer copyright assignment / licensing agreement"):
> On Tue, Feb 19, 2013 at 02:11:57PM +0000, Ian Jackson wrote:
> > I think if the original author or copyright holder writes a copyright
> > notice saying that SPI is the copyright holder, then that is a legally
> > effective copyright assignment.  At least in the UK[1].
> In the US, "A transfer of copyright ownership, other than by
> operation of law, is not valid unless an instrument of conveyance,
> or a note or memorandum of the transfer, is in writing and signed by
> the owner of the rights conveyed or such owner's duly authorized
> agent." http://www.copyright.gov/title17/92chap2.html

That's similar to the wording in the UK CDPA to which I gave a link.
So the author would have to write their name, but a statement along
these lines
    Copyright (C)2013 Software in the Public Interest Inc
     - Alice Smith 2013.
might suffice.  Something clearer would clearly be desirable, along
the lines of
    Copyright (C)2013 Software in the Public Interest Inc (SPI)
    I hereby transfer my copyright in this work to Software
    in the Public Intest Inc, - Alice Smith 19 Feb 2013.

My main point was that there is no requirement for formalities on the
part of the new copyright holder to "accept" the transfer.  So SPI
can hold these copyrights whether we like it or not.


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