Robert Dewar dewar@adacore.com
Mon Jul 16 13:32:00 GMT 2007

Richard Kenner wrote:

>> Actually, this is a good point.  While the FSF may declare that all
>> patches after Aug 1 are GPLv3, unless they take affirmative action
>> to assert the copyright and license, courts may determine that they
>> waive rights under these.  Especially if a reasonable person would
>> expect copyright statements to be correct.

One of the changes in copyright law since the Berne convention is
that copyright holders do NOT have to take affirmative action to
assert copyright (no more need for (c) 1997 bla bla statements to
establish the copyright, though they still a good idea), so I am
afraid the above may represent wishful thinking on what you would
LIKE the state of affairs to be. This is actually quite a general
problem. Suppose you are writing a book on the second world war,
and you come across an old photograph with no attribution. You
can't just use it without checking to find the original source,
since it could still be copyrighted. I know of at least one case
where a publisher had published a old photo of this kind (used to
be quite safe to do so in practice if there was no indication of 
copyright on the photo) in a textbook, and had to pay up when the
heir of the photographer noticed it.

As for waiving rights, in many European countries there are
severe limitations on waiving copyright moral rights even if
you want to. We investigated in France and found that it is
quite difficult to actively put copyrighted artifacts into the
public domain.

So bottom line, don't assume anything, and cover all bases. Just
so things are clear, my comment about the license statements in
files not being legally required or even very relevant was NOT
meant to suggest not bothering with getting them correct. I think
we should definitely strive to get all copyright and license
statements up to date and accurate.

It may also be good to have a separate clear license statement
in addition to the notices in the files.

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