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From Simon Kitching <skitch...@apache.org>
Subject RE: Copyright text, and javadoc license
Date Sun, 06 Mar 2005 00:18:13 GMT
Hi Lawrence,

Thanks very much for your informative email.

On Sat, 2005-03-05 at 08:24 -0800, Lawrence Rosen wrote:
> An ASF copyright notice can be placed only (1) on the ASF website itself and
> on related expressive pronouncements of the ASF board of directors, its
> officers or agents created on behalf of ASF and published to the world as
> ASF's "voice"; (2) on the CVS data bases containing the Contributions
> collected, selected and arranged in accordance with ASF-authorized
> processes. The former are generally *original work* copyrights; the latter
> are *collective work* copyrights. (A more general term for collective works
> under US copyright law would be a *compilation work* but that's not an
> important distinction for this thread and would be confusing to all
> programmers.) In some cases, third parties or the ASF itself may create
> modifications of (1) and (2). Only if ASF itself does the modification may
> it (3) place its *derivative work* copyright notice on that work. See 17 USC
> 101.

I presume (as Roy Fielding mentions) that there is also the possibility
for the author of a work to assign copyright to the ASF? In which case
 Copyright 2005 The Apache Foundation
would be the correct copyright statement to include in the file? 

This would seem to be the case for a significant amount of code
developed by ASF committers. We *want* to create code that will belong
to the "ASF Community".

> ASF will not remove (indeed, should not remove) any pre-existing copyright
> notices.

Isn't the ASF legally entitled to specify any preconditions it wants to
before accepting donated works? And that those preconditions can
include:
* that the author of the work grant the ASF a copyright on the work in
addition to their own copyright, and
* that the author grants the ASF the right to move the existing
copyright statement to an external file.

It seems to me that this is what the current policy (as explained by
Jennifer) does. Is this not legal? Or is it just that the ASF hasn't
properly got contributor's agreement to this?

And if an author has granted the ASF copyright on a work, then isn't the
ASF entitled to insert their copyright statement into the work even if
no other modification has been made to it?

BTW, isn't this "grant of copyright" what GNU insist on for its
contributors?

> You are absolutely right that it would be improper to place an ASF copyright
> notice on files that are "contributed in their entirety and are not modified
> by ASF or other contributors." What I don't then understand is why the ASF
> should want to change those existing copyright notices at all. Just leave
> them alone.
> 

As is mentioned, there is the matter of community/identity and free
software "principles". I certainly would not feel happy about
contributing my time to improving code whose *only* copyright statement
referred to some large commercial entity. That doesn't mean removing all
acknowledgement of the original contributor.

Having said that, if we are talking about having two copyrights on some
files, eg
  Copyright 2001 Big Corporation Ltd
  Copyright 2001-2005 The Apache Software Foundation
then this seems reasonable acknowledgement for large contributions of
code initially developed outside the ASF. Is this what you mean by "Just
leave them alone"?

If we are talking about copyrights added for each bugfix or minor
improvement:
  Copyright 2001 Big Corporation Ltd
  Copyright 2002 John Smith [bugfix #12345]
  Copyright 2002 Sue Smith  [bugfix #12346]
  Copyright 2003 Acme Corporation [added comments]
this seems likely to destroy all sense of community.

Regards,

Simon


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