This is the mail archive of the
mailing list for the GCC project.
Re: Why not contribute? (to GCC)
On 04/25/2010 06:27 PM, Richard Kenner wrote:
I couldn't see somebody suing me (my bank account hovers pretty lowNo, because then the FSF wouldn't sue you EITHER! There's NO
most of the time). Companies are not going to sue nobodies such as
myself because there is no money in it. So, in practice, is there a
difference or not?
DIFFERENCE in theory or in practice as to your liability whether there's
an assignment or not and whether it's GCC or some other project.
Obviously there is a difference, otherwise FSF wouldn't be requesting
copyright assignment. The difference is that the FSF "owns" the entire
project. Does this affect liability in theory or in practice? You say
no. I say it might. Consolidated ownership means an easy target for a
greedy company and a lazy judge (neither of which are in poor
abundance). Under such a model, this "easy target", if successfully sued
and if damages are awarded, would pull up the copyright assignment
agreement and hold me liable for the amount. Distributed ownership
provides a difficult target and a less likely candidate for either a law
suit in the first place, or a high $$$ amount once they figure out that
they can only really sue me (and not a well funded organization). The
ultimate in free, for me, is if every single person in the world
contributed at least one line of code to the project, and retains
ownership to their piece. Each person is then liable to each other
person, and a true community owned project exists. Consolidated
ownership can't do this.
The real reason for FSF copyright assignment is control. The FSF wants
to control GCC. This presents a chore for potential contributors with
very little value (if any) in return for their efforts. The published
explanation (why-assign.html) states clearly that the FSF believes it is
easier to defend the software and all derived software as being "free"
(as defined by the FSF) using a consolidated ownership mode. I don't see
how this benefits me in any way. If I'm giving software that I write to
the community for "free", why do I care what they will do with it? If I
control how they can use it - it's not free. It's limited use.
In some ways, I wish a group did fork GCC under GPL and drop the
copyright assignment requirement. In other ways, this entire issue is
just so minor to me that it isn't worth going beyond this thread. GCC
works, but so do other compilers (Intel CC, LLVM, ...). GCC is
distributed under the GPL, so if the FSF ever becomes a real problem (as
opposed to merely having a political agenda), it can be forked at this
All in all, pretty minor. GCC wants FSF copyright assignment and
employer disclaimers? GCC will not have as many contributors. Your choice.
There are plenty of projects that we (lurkers / non contributors) can
contribute to other projects that are not as mature and require more
attention, or even other compilers (LLVM?).
Referring to the people and employees who have gone through the
copyright assigment and employer disclaimers in the past and saying
("they didn't have a problem signing") isn't evidence that the process
is practical, efficient, or acceptable. These people probably just felt
they had no other choice. If given the option of NOT doing this process,
I'm sure most of them would happily have chosen option B.