SPI Workshop/Brainstorming Session at Debconf

Theodore Ts'o tytso at mit.edu
Sun Jul 20 10:44:06 UTC 2003

On Sat, Jul 19, 2003 at 10:33:57PM -0700, Bruce Perens wrote:
> From: David B Harris <david at eelf.ddts.net>
> > The only SPI-like organisatoin that I'm aware of that serves as a
> > repository for copyrighted works is the FSF, and I'm not terribly
> > impressed with how that has turned out.
> Well, FSF's problems have little to do with their role of recieving
> copyrights. They do get a lot of copyrights, seem willing to enforce
> them, and have so far succeeded in doing so without having to go to court.

Well, that depends on who you talk to.  Their copyright assignment
contract requires that I indemnify them, which is a legal risk I
refuse to do, especially when I am offering to give away software for
free.  (If you are asked to sign a contract which includes the word
"indemnify" in it, run-don't-walk to your lawyer before signing it.)

It is interesting to note that the copyright assignment paperwork by
which the FSF agreed to accept the S390 binutils changes did not
require IBM to indemnify FSF for anything, which both (a) shows the
wisdom of IBM lawyers, and (b) shows the FSF can be flexible with the
issue if you push hard enough (or the change is something they want
badly enough.)

I recently had another case where the Translation Project erroneously
recorded that I wanted the translations to e2fsprogs to be assigned to
the FSF before I would accept them, and I had a translator contact me
and explain to me that he absolutely refused to transfer copyrights to
the FSF, and I had reassure him that this was not necessary.
(Interestly, he had no problems transfering the rights to me
personally --- just not the FSF.)

						- Ted

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