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From "Roy T. Fielding" <field...@gbiv.com>
Subject Re: Understanding non-release licensing at the ASF
Date Fri, 28 Aug 2015 01:09:42 GMT
> On Aug 27, 2015, at 1:17 PM, Richard Eckart de Castilho <rec@apache.org> wrote:
> 
> On 27.08.2015, at 21:58, Roy T. Fielding <fielding@gbiv.com> wrote:
> 
>> The ASF copyright, when it exists, springs into existence by the actions we take
in curating the
>> overall work. It does not appear by vote. It does not appear upon publication. Neither
voting nor
>> publication are actions that create an original work. Contributing does.
> 
> Hm... ok, but contributions are made by individuals and they retain their copyright,
right?

Not that simple. Some contributions aren't copyrightable independent of the work.
Some individuals don't own the copyright of what they contribute (e.g., they have
an employer that does own it).

> Is curation really something that the ASF does or is it simply an effect of the collective
> individual contributions?

That's not a relevant question when they are doing the curation using our discussion
forums, our software version control, and in our name.  One could argue that use of
the trademarks alone creates an implied ownership of the collective work, but we simply
don't need to resolve such questions outside a specific court case with a specific set
of contributors and a specific project history.

> What does the ASF *as the ASF* - then contribute that would entitle it to a copyright?

Again, not a relevant question until it needs to be decided by a court.  This does not
in any way reduce the ASF's ability to distribute, under our license, what has been
contributed to the ASF under a grant, icla, or our software license.

> I guess you will say that the PMC acts as the extended arm of the ASF, but are they tightly
enough connected to the ASF that copyright is actually earned by the foundation (similar as
to a work for hire)? 

The PMC (as a committee) is the ASF.  It is a decision-making body of the foundation
with the authority to manage the creation and distribution of software under a
given project name.  I doubt that it would qualify as a work for hire, simply
because we have no work contract that would substitute for paying money, but
I also don't see how any of this is relevant.

There is no shortage of examples of non-profit pamphlets that are published under
the non-profit's copyright even if the content is entirely written by volunteers.
The only time there would ever be a dispute over that is if one of the volunteers
claimed exclusive copyright for themselves, after the fact; it would lead to a
great deal of argument over whether the volunteer made an implicit grant of license
just by virtue of volunteering on the project. Regardless, I see no reason to worry
about such things given that most of our contributors have a signed icla/grant and
all of the contributions are done with clear intent for the ASF to redistribute.

....Roy


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