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From "Roy T. Fielding" <field...@gbiv.com>
Subject Re: Updating NOTICE files for previously AL 1.0 contributed code
Date Sun, 18 Apr 2010 11:29:54 GMT
On Apr 14, 2010, at 1:04 PM, Daniel F. Savarese wrote:
> In message <A8D97A63-3BA1-4630-8162-117653195E28@gbiv.com>, "Roy T. Fielding" w
> rites:
>> On Apr 12, 2010, at 9:53 AM, Daniel F. Savarese wrote:
>>> Should projects contributed to the ASF under the AL 1.0 which had =
>> their
>>> copyright statements stripped and do not presently contain an original
>>> copyright statement in the NOTICE file after conversion to the AL 2.0
>>> have an original copyright statement restored to the NOTICE file?
>> No.
> Thank you for the answer.  That was my original understanding.
>> If all you want is to retain credit over time, then you should
>> do that in the README or some other form of credits file.
> My question has nothing to do with credit.  It stemmed from seeing
> the mention of code exiting the ASF being required to preserve an ASF
> copyright notice in the NOTICE file when the ASF did not itself
> preserve a copyright notice in the NOTICE file yet, based on what
> I had seen, appeared to be doing so for projects entering the ASF
> under the AL 2.0 (e.g.,
> http://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/stdcxx/trunk/NOTICE.txt,
> http://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/incubator/trafficserver/traffic/trunk/NOTICE,
> http://svn.apache.org/repos/asf/incubator/esme/trunk/NOTICE.txt
> and others).  I was trying to reconcile the inconsistent and seemingly
> inequitable treatment.

How is that inconsistent and inequitable?  Every copyright owner that
demands a notice is given one.  Most Apache developers do not want to
be on the notice.

>> There is no motivating legal reason.  Copyright notices are not
>> documentation -- they are statements of legal obligations.  We don't
>> put them in every file because they can't be updated over time as
>> they become inaccurate (and, in most cases, they start out being
>> inaccurate because the original coders fail to account for all of
>> their own employers, contracts, and copy-n-paste sources).
> ...
>> The alternative is to have everyone add a notice whenever each
>> person (and/or their employer) makes a copyrightable addition to
>> a file.  However, since nobody knows how much of a change is
>> necessary to be separately "copyrightable", all that will create
>> is another source of pointless arguments, ugly code, and hurt feelings.
> Thanks for the recap, but I am already aware of all of this.  I
> was not asking about copyright notices in individual files nor
> about recognizing additions to code after it has entered the ASF.
> I was asking about an apparent inconsistent handling of the NOTICE
> file between projects originating elsewhere that entered the ASF
> under the AL 1.0 (which had no NOTICE file) vs. ones entering
> under the AL 2.0.  What I infer from your answer is that projects
> that entered the ASF under the AL 2.0 list an original copyright
> in the NOTICE file only when the contributor demanded it.  In the
> transition from AL 1.0 to AL 2.0, original contributors were not
> made aware of the possibility to do so because the ASF sees it
> as an additional liability.

The change from 1.0 to 2.0 had nothing to do with it.  It doesn't
matter where or when the contribution came from.  What changed is
the attitude toward contributors who insisted on having their own
name or company on top of every file.  At some point we decided to
reject those contributions.  The NOTICE file created a middle-ground
that was socially palatable and still legally sound, so now there
are more contributions that are let in after moving file-based
notices to the NOTICE file.

> As to a possible motivating legal, I was concerned with the
> contributor's ability to protect his own copyright in the future if
> all records of it were removed.  As Lawrence Rosen has said in the past:
> http://mail-archives.apache.org/mod_mbox/www-legal-discuss/200503.mbox/%3C20050305230043.GA44112@mail26a.sbc-webhosting.com%3E
>> I caution you, however, against removing or altering copyright statements
>> already in the source code. That can affect your later ability to trace the
>> provenance of Contributions. It can cause confusion if Contributors seek to
>> license that same code to others in addition to their license to ASF. It can
>> potentially even affect the Contributors' rights to protect their own
>> copyrights in court if they acquiesce in the removal or alteration of their
>> copyright statements. (17 USC 405(c)). Why do it? 
> http://mail-archives.apache.org/mod_mbox/www-legal-discuss/200503.mbox/%3C20050305112417.GA45904@mail26d.sbc-webhosting.com%3E
>> Regardless of the "*very* strong feeling" by ASF members that they want to
>> highlight the ASF identity rather than that of the contributors, modifying
>> or removing existing copyright notices in source code of contributions is
>> not the way to do that. It has the great disadvantage of obscuring the
>> provenance of the code, and it can lead to misunderstandings and grievances
>> later if contributors should want to use their own code in other ways. No
>> matter how adamant the members and board are, it is appropriate for lawyers
>> like us to say "you shouldn't be doing that."
>> If copyright owners like BEA and IBM acquiesce in the removal of their own
>> copyright notices, they may be denying themselves the full protection of the
>> copyright law. (See 17 USC 405(e).) And they needn't do so as long as a
>> *valid* Apache copyright notice is placed on the entire collective work.
>> (See 17 USC 404(a).)

And, as was pointed out many times, such notices create a social
barrier to participation in an open collaborative project.  So, while
Larry's views are 100% legally correct, they are also socially wrong.
We can and do remove such notices with the permission of the owner
because the social benefits far outweigh the costs.

Your question was about having all the PMCs go back and re-insert
copyright notices based on what they perceive as original owners.
My answer was "no" because such perceptions are usually wrong and
inevitably harmful.  That being said, if any original copyright owner
wants an appropriate notice placed in accordance with their own copyright,
then the PMC should either do so or remove the code in question.

We only accept voluntary contributions.


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