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Re: Why not contribute? (to GCC) (Richard Kenner) writes:

>> That is not unlimited liability.  That clause says that if you
>> contribute code which you do not own to the FSF, and the correct owner
>> of the code sues the FSF, and wins the court case, and the FSF is
>> forced to pay damages to the true owner, then you are legally
>> responsible to cover the FSF's costs, both the costs of damages and
>> the cost of litigation.
> Yes, but there is no limit to the "costs of damages and the cost
> of litigation".  THAT'S the concern being expressed.

But, as I outlined, there is a limit.  This is not patents.  This is
copyright.  Copyright law does not provide for unlimited damages.  I
agree that there is no limit specified in the assignment, but there is
a limit in reality.

>> So, if you screw up badly, there is liability, yes.
> To me, that's the point.  This clause only operates if the person
> doing the assignment did something improper.  HOWEVER, there IS a
> legitimate issue: suppose an employee develops a patch and submits it
> to the FSF.  Unknown to the company, the employee actually stole the code
> from a third party.  But it's the COMPANY that's indemnifying the FSF.
> Yes, it can sue its employee and get a judgement in the amount it has to
> pay the FSF, but most likely the employee couldn't pay such a judgement.
> So you do have a situation here where the company is being forced to
> trust its employee.

I would not argue that people should not try to talk the FSF out of
this position.  On the other hand, many companies have apparently had
no trouble signing this.


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