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From Leo Simons <m...@leosimons.com>
Subject Re: CLA issues Was: java.sql.*
Date Sun, 12 Feb 2006 23:36:25 GMT
Hi Tor-Einer,

I live in The Netherlands, which has all but identical copyright laws
to Germany. My parents live in Germany and have looked at this kind of
stuff before. I've talked to german ASF committers about legal stuff
before who have had their companies look at things.

I'm not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

Blah Blah.

On Sat, Feb 11, 2006 at 12:47:20AM +0100, Tor-Einar Jarnbjo wrote:
> Geir Magnusson Jr wrote:
> 
> >Which code, and what were the terms of the NDA?  The CLA is fairly 
> >lightwieght.
> >What questions do you have for both? 
> 
> I thought I better split this, to prevent the discussion from getting 
> too confusing. One thing I already pointed out with the Apache CLA is 
> that it is very biased towards US copyright law. I am not a lawyer and I 
> really have no clue if US copyright law, German "Urheberrecht" or both 
> applies if I, living in Germany, am signing a contract with a US entity. 

Me neither, but I do know that at least the subset of international copyright
law that is common to both jurisdictions applies, which should be sufficient.

> The most serious legal crash is probably section 2: "Grant of Copyright 
> License". First problem is, that I can't grant you anything I currently 
> don't have, a "copyright" on my work. The German counterpart, my 
> "Urheberrecht" is not transferable and any license I give to use, 
> redistribute, modify etc. the work may under some conditions be revoked. 
> Any contract diverging from these principles is in Germany legally void.

Like Geir already mentioned, the CLA asks for a copyright license and not
a copyright transfer. This is not a problem under any law in any western
country.

I don't think the ASF CLA has ever been tested in a German court and I
somewhat doubt it ever will be. Legal departments from several German
software vendors have reviewed the CLA and then approved its signing by
their employees, which is probably as close as we can get to being "sure"
that it is "valid enough".

> Another specific issue related to my proposed Vorbis SPI for JavaSound 
> donation, is if you regard third party source code to be classified as 
> format documentation . To be more exact, the Vorbis format specification 
> from the Xiph Foundation proved to contain several errors and their 
> attitude when me pointing it out was, that the reference decoder is the 
> only thing to be considered as a formal specification. This means of 
> course, that at least when it comes to some estimated 20-40 lines of 
> code, my Vorbis decoder implementation is at least "based on" the 
> reference decoder from Xiph, which is AFAIK released under a BSD license.

This is fine. Even if you copy-pasted something like 20 lines, it is debatable
whether that's copyrightable work. Since we don't like debates, we can just
add the appropriate (copyright) notices and the like to the relevant source code
and NOTICE file(s) to comply with the BSD license.

> Patent issues are also unclear to me.

Yup, they're unclear to everyone, including most European software vendors
and the European Union. Big mess.

> At this point the CLA is really 
> vague (5), only demaning me to represent that my contribution is free 
> of any patents that "I am personally aware of". I have absolutely no 
> ability to judge on that, which of course fulfils, that I am not 
> personally aware of any claims, but depending on the contributors 
> knowledge on patent and license law, this paragraph lies somewhere 
> between meaningsless and very dependent on which country's patents and 
> licenses are to be considered.

Exactly. It makes big U.S. companies do a lot of work while it doesn't
cause a lot of headache for average joe hacker who hates thinking about
patents. Its by design; the main goal of clauses like this is to protect
ASF contributors and ASF users from worrying about patents.

hope this helps,

cheers,

Leo


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