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Re: Why not contribute? (to GCC)

On Apr 25, 2010, at 9:33 AM, Richard Kenner wrote:

>> That web page is everything that there is.  I am aware that this is not as 
>> legally air-tight as the FSF disclaimer, but empirically many companies
>> seem to have no problem with it.
> There's nothing to have a problem WITH!  No assignment has taken place.
> The statement on the web has no legal significance whatsoever.  Unless
> the company SIGNS something, they still own the copyright on the code
> and can, at any time, decide they don't want it distributed.

It's unclear whether the LLVM-style implicit copyright assignment is really enforceable, and this certainly isn't a forum to debate it.  In any case, it doesn't really matter, because the only reason copyright needs to be assigned (AFAIK) is to change the license.  The LLVM project does not aim to be able to change the license in the future, all that is really important is that contributors agree to license their code under the llvm "bsd" license.

For at least some contributors, not being able to change the license is actually a major feature.  They aren't comfortable with assigning code to an organization which can then change the license of the code to something they don't agree with.  This is exactly what happened when code written and contributed under GPL2 got relicensed as GPL3 for example.  I'm not saying that this is right or wrong, but perceptions are held by people.

In any case the aims of the FSF are quite clear, and IMO it seems that the explicit copyright assignment is a real and necessary part of achieving those aims.  Different projects just have different goals.


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