[OSGeo-Discuss] Software Copyright ownership
seven at arnulf.us
Sun Dec 13 15:58:01 PST 2009
What do folks think about software Copyright ownership? OSGeo could
suggest that project steering committees move the Copyright of their
software under the hood of OSGeo as GeoTools and others already did. In
some cases the respective project steering committees might not be able
to do such a thing because they do not own it in the first place. Is
that a good situation?
To my knowledge (this needs verification) Apache has all its projects
under their own license and owns the copyright for the code. Very
straightforward. Outside of Open Source in the standards arena Google
has given the Copyright of KML to the OGC - which is good. In
OpenStreetMap not doing this has resulted in arguably unresolvable
Let me predict that the "user community" (remember 2005/11) will
probably favor such an approach (and with big lamento) and that current
Copyright owners of code and trademarks might be rather more reluctant.
A recent example that shows what problems can be caused by not clearly
separating Copyright, business ownership and trademarks is MySQL. The
company "MySQL AB" operated the project "MySQL" and sold the product
"MySQL" under a dual licensing schema. Now MySQL AB (the company) is
owned by Oracle. Who owns the copyright of the project MySQL? And what
happens to the trademarks?
I generally do not agree with Monty (twittered by James Fee) and
believe that he has other motivations and should have taken preventive
measures up front to avoid what is happening right now. But whatever the
outcome of this fight it for sure has been damaging to the project.
In a response/comment from Groklaw (twittered by Paul Ramsey):
"And on what legal basis would anyone have authority to change the
license, other than the copyright holder? Are you seriously suggesting
that a regulatory body decide the license instead of the copyright
owner? What a reckless idea."
My private opinion on this issue is pretty clear: Move your Copyright to
OSGeo - all of it including trademarks, logos and designs. That is what
OSGeo is there for. Get it out of corporate reach, it is none of their
business (great analogy, hehe). Is their any advantage of keeping the
Copyright under a private property?
What I get back from corporate users of Open Source software these days
is the same, they would rather have the Copyright sit with a (real)
non-profit like OSGeo than anything else.
Just a last note: This thread might grow large (these soft topics where
everybody seems to be expert are abominable). Please do not use IANAL in
any post, just argue straight forward to your point.
/me slowly walks off for cover
Exploring Space, Time and Mind
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