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From Noah Slater <nsla...@apache.org>
Subject Question about the ASF claiming copyright
Date Mon, 09 Jun 2008 12:18:46 GMT

I am a comitter on the Apache CouchDB Podling and while preparing for our first
incubating release I came across the following advice:

  Note that the ASF does not use copyright assignment and the copyrights for
  individual parts of the collective work are retained by the original authors.

  - http://www.apache.org/dev/apply-license.html

  Apache products are composed of lots of pieces of code across numerous source
  files, licensed to the ASF by various authors who maintain ownership of their
  contributions. When a PMC goes through the process of selecting, coordinating,
  and arranging all these various contributions into a single product, the
  collective work is also protected by copyright law and is owned by the ASF --
  even though each individual piece of code is still owned by the contributor.


  Since contributors maintain their copyright ownership in the works they submit,
  it is misleading to place the ASF copyright at the top of each source file. The
  previous ASF copyright notice represented the ASF's ownership in the collective
  work of the entire distribution, but placing it at the top of each source file
  was causing a lot of confusion. To avoid this confusion, we are placing all
  copyright notices in a single file and leaving only the licensing information
  within each source file.

  - http://www.apache.org/legal/src-headers.html

IANAL, but this seems to be a very strange thing for Apache to be doing.

My understanding of copyright law was that it covers creative works only, not
the "selecting, coordinating, and arranging [of creative works]."

Not using copyright assignment, asking contributers not to us individual
copyright notices and then claiming copyright over the finished creative work
because of the "[selection], [coordination], and [arrangement]" of the
individual creative works seems confusing at best, perhaps misleading at worst.

Does "[selection], [coordination], and [arrangement]" (in this context) fall
under the auspices of international copyright law as a creative process? My gut
feeling as a lay person tells me that it shouldn't.


Noah Slater - The Apache Software Foundation <http://www.apache.org/>

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