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Re: Why not contribute? (to GCC)


On 04/25/2010 11:44 PM, Dave Korn wrote:
On 26/04/2010 04:30, Richard Kenner wrote:
Yes. Specifically, they want to be able to enforce the GPL. Since only the
copyright holder can license code to anyone, whether under GPL or whatever
terms, FSF has to hold the copyright, or it can't sue anyone who breaches the
GPL, and therefore cannot enforce it.
Unless I'm missing something, that argues that the FSF must have
copyright to SOME of the code. I don't see how having copyright for
all of the code would be needed to do that.
   Well, if the FSF don't own all the code, they can only license the bits they
do own.  That would leave the rest of it vulnerable to predation, at least.

"... they can only license the bits they do own" isn't quite right. The can only license the bits they have permission to license. Under the GPL, anybody with a legally obtained copy can re-license the software the same version of the GPL or a later version of the GPL.


Perhaps you mean they can only sue the bits they do own - but even that sounds suspect. If I have the rights to re-license software, and I re-license the software, why do I not have permission to enforce these rights? It doesn't make sense to me. But, I'm willing to assume the FSF lawyers know something I don't about copyright law, probably something about how only the actual owner (either due to being the original author or due to implicit copyright assignment to an employer or due to explicit copyright assignment to a third party such as the FSF?) can raise the law suit. If so, then yes, it would seem to, unfortunately, mean that you would need to get the author of the code that you want to sue about involved in the process.

Personally, this whole issue is problematic to me. I really can't see why I would ever sue somebody for using software that I had declared free. It wouldn't be worth my time and I have trouble understanding how I could demonstrate personal loss making the law suit worth persuing in the first place. Perhaps I do not run an organization such as the FSF or own a company that makes money off dual-licensing GPL/Commercial, so I don't have the same perspective as they do...

Cheers,
mark


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