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From Ted Dunning <ted.dunn...@gmail.com>
Subject Re: Modify CLA for cases where there is no copyright (e.g., U.S. federal government employees)
Date Thu, 21 Aug 2014 06:49:18 GMT
On Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 2:13 PM, Lawrence Rosen <lrosen@rosenlaw.com> wrote:

> I appreciate your question, but I'm not sure if it is based on a real
> problem or a misunderstanding by (some!) U.S. government attorneys.

Misunderstanding if it be that by (some) US government attorneys is a real

> If the government agency signing the CCLA is contributing an actual
> copyrighted work, then we need the CCLA to be signed as is. If the work is
> not copyrighted (i.e., the work is written by a U.S. government employee in
> the course or scope of his/her duties, or the work predates the current
> copyright act), then the contribution is ours whether the agency gives it
> to us or not.

Yes.  That is the Apache theory.

But there is a real problem in that not all attorneys in positions to make
decisions that are important to the ASF agree with that.

We could change their opinions by simply putting into the CLA that the
individual contributor either has the currently specified state of
knowledge that there is a grant to the ASF or that the contributor has
reason to believe that there are no rights to grant due to the work being a
product of the US government.

> So what's the problem? This issue of public domain content in software
> works applies even to contributions by corporations. They don't refuse to
> sign a CCLA even though some of what they give us isn't actually
> copyrighted or copyrightable. Why is a government agency special in that
> context?

CCLA's are less of the problem than the CLA as we have seen.

And the problem is not in your interpretation of the CLA, but in the
interpretations of the attorneys' advising potential contributors who work
for the US government.

The solution is simple and it doesn't consist of you (Larry) trying to
convince people on this mailing list of the correctness of your views.  The
simple solution is to add a clause to the individual CLA.

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