Why not contribute? (to GCC)

Richard Kenner kenner@vlsi1.ultra.nyu.edu
Mon Apr 26 12:32:00 GMT 2010


> Years ago, I was asked to sign one of these documents for some public
> domain code I wrote that I never intended to become part of a FSF project.
> Someone wanted to turn it a regular GNU project with a GPL license,
> configure scripts, a cute acronym and all that stuff.   I said no.
> It's public domain, take it or leave it.  Why I should I sign some
> legally binding document for some code I had in effect already donated
> to the public?

Because that's the only way to PUT something in the public domain!
Copyright law says that if you write something, you own the copyright to
it.  That's true whether you put a copyright notice in it or not.  If you
mean to disclaim copyright interest in it, you have to sign some document
saying you do.

> How would you feel if some charity you donated money to came back
> with a piece of paper for you to sign?

A closer analogy: a charity receives an unsolicited script for a play from
you.  There's no copyright notice on it.  They love the script and feel
they can make a lot of money producing the show.  If you were the charity's
attorney would you recommend they go ahead and produce the show under the
assumption you MEANT to assign the rights to them or should they get a
document from you STATING that you mean to assign the rights to them?



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