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From Roland Weber <ROLWE...@de.ibm.com>
Subject Re: @author tags
Date Fri, 12 Mar 2004 13:12:25 GMT
Hello Michael,

it was never my intention to involve in a legal discussion.
I kind of feel dragged into this, probably because my use
of the term "owner" was mistaken as a legal term. Also,
some not clearly specified legal issues were mentioned
as the reason why the use of the author tag has been
discouraged.
Lets just accept that author tags are discouraged and
go on to discuss whether there are good reasons to keep
them anyway.

Michael, thank you for bringing a new non-legal aspect
into this discussion:

> When we see certain authors, then we know that we 
> don't have to double check the code too much.  We might even stop for 
that 
> reason alone to see what they do.  Other authors, maybe we do the 
> opposite.  This is not unimportant.

Code is submitted in form of patches, which get reviewed
before they are committed. At the time of the review, the
patch contributor is known, and the amount of review needed
can be determined accordingly.

When stopping by to see how something has been done, I am
usually interested in the architecture or design of the
solution. Once a patch has been committed, all architectural
or design decisions have been discussed between a lot of people
and agreed upon. The author tag will not help me to track down
where someone left his or her traces on that level.

Which leaves implementation details as something to attribute
to a particular developer through the author tag.
Is this important enough?

> We can also see where people are interested in or good at various 
aspects 
> of coding.
Is this something that should be visible from the source code?

> There are lots of reasons to know who did what and when as well 
> as for what reason.
Reasoning takes place on the mailing list and in bugzilla.
Reasons are documented in bugzilla, and possibly in comments
throughout the source code. The "when" is documented in CVS.
Not in author tags.

> There is no reason that has been given that I find at 
> all persuasive to not know who coded something.

Quoting from Michael Beckes original mail:
http://nagoya.apache.org/eyebrowse/ReadMsg?listName=commons-httpclient-dev@jakarta.apache.org&msgNo=6200

> The ASF has recently recommended that we discontinue use of @author 
tags. 

For me, that is reason enough to remove the author tags
in the absence of better reasons to keep them. I trust the
ASF implicitly to have discussed this matter thoroughly.
If I didn't trust them, I'd search whether that discussion
is documented online, possibly in some other mailing list.

Someone got a link at hand?

cheers,
  Roland







Michael McGrady <mike@michaelmcgrady.com>
12.03.2004 13:24
Please respond to "Commons HttpClient Project"
 
        To:     "Commons HttpClient Project" 
<commons-httpclient-dev@jakarta.apache.org>
        cc: 
        Subject:        Re: @author tags





THE PRACTICAL ASPECT OF THIS DISCUSSION IS AT BEST DUBIOUS

The use of @author tags has a lot more than ownership or braggadocio to 
recommend itself to us.  When we see certain authors, then we know that we 

don't have to double check the code too much.  We might even stop for that 

reason alone to see what they do.  Other authors, maybe we do the 
opposite.  This is not unimportant.

We can also see where people are interested in or good at various aspects 
of coding.  There are lots of reasons to know who did what and when as 
well 
as for what reason.  There is no reason that has been given that I find at 

all persuasive to not know who coded something.  The deliberate creation 
of 
ignorance about these matters should be suspicious to our common sense.


THE LEGAL ASPECT IN THIS DISCUSSION IS JUST PLAIN MISTAKEN

Roland Weber wrote:

 >Right now, there is a company with three capital letters on
 >the loose, which is suing other companies (including another
 >one with three capital letters) for reasons that most of the
 >open source community considers to be silly. But it may be
 >an expensive and lengthy enterprise to prove in court that
 >a silly thing is a silly thing. If removing author tags may
 >reduce the risk of being sued, then rip them out.

1.  There is no legal liability engendered by the @author tags.  If there 
is, please indicate how so.  Wild speculations about other suits is not 
helpful.

2.  Any alternative to @author tags will face exactly the same legal 
liability.

With respect to everyone involved in this decision to break something that 

is not broken, this is all really not very smart.  Some of the best 
programmers in the world are on these lists.  Unfortunately, some of the 
worst "jail house" lawyers are also on this list.  The list needs to know 
that this is all legal baloney.

There is NOTHING fixed or protected legally by doing something with the 
@author tags.  Anyone who thinks so is simply way off beam.

All this talk about legal liability is nothing but well-intentioned smoke 
and mirrors.  There is NO REALITY to the legal aspect of this discussion.

Please get a real decision on this by someone that knows what they are 
talking about in the legal arena or stop this wild speculating about legal 

matters.

No one who is attributed through @author tags is legally liable for 
anything they should not be legally liable for and any workable 
alternative 
won't change the legal liability a bit.

Please, if you are advocating a change for legal reasons, understand that 
you are just wrong, that you don't know what you are talking about in this 

case.  This is really not even debatable.  Okay?  PLEASE identify a real 
problem rather than speculating about the legal arena generally.  That is 
emotionally appealing but not helpful, in my opinion, even if 
well-intentioned.  The bugaboo of having to hide reality because people 
can 
sue for any silly reason is great copy for "inquiring minds" that read 
newspaper rags, but it is, again, a silly way to behave in a responsible 
arena.  This is almost identical to an argument that we should not use 
plumbing but should build outhouses because sewer pipes sometimes 
break.  Don't screw the area of open source coding up over wild and 
inaccurate speculation about legal liability.  If you want to harm the 
open 
source community, in my opinion, this is a good start.





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