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Re: M4 1.5 development

From: Gary V. Vaughan
Subject: Re: M4 1.5 development
Date: Tue, 06 Apr 2004 16:37:18 +0100
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Hi Nick,

Nick Etson wrote:
| What do you mean by copyright assignment?  I don't want to do any non-GPL'ed
| work so I'd be more than happy to sign anything to that effect.  I do a
| limited amount of development here at work, most of which is specific to our
| infrastructure and engineering services and isn't worth opensourcing even if
| I was allowed to do so.

Just that.  The FSF asks us to collect copyright assignments for contributions
to GNU projects.  The idea is that when you contribute code to (say) GNU m4,
you assign the copyright for that code to the FSF to better allow them to
defend the program code in court if someone violates the license (among other

Would you be willing to sign paperwork that says that you assign the
copyright, for any patches you contribute to M4, to the FSF?

The employer disclaimer is because many (most) programmers are employed with a
contract that gives their employer copyright of any code they write, including
code you write in your own time on your own hardware that has no business
value to your employer.  I believe it is not unprecedented for employers to
claim that they have intellectual property rights over past free software
contributions made by former employees!!!  To protect themselves and you from
that, the FSF also asks us to collect copyright disclaimers from programmers'
employers.  The paperwork has good advice on how to approach this, but
basically it asks your employer to promise not to say that your contributions
actually belong to them at any point in the future.  I simply had them sign a
form that said "We disclaim copyright of all GPL code written by Gary V.
Vaughan until further notice".  If your job is not substantially programming
then there will be no need for you to get this signed.

If you are happy to go ahead, I'll look up the address of the copyright clerk,
and you can mail him for the paperwork.

Sorry this is a little onerous, but it is unfortunately necessary to keep our
software free in a world populated by the likes of SCO and Microsoft :-(

Thanks again for your interest in M4 :-)

- --
Gary V. Vaughan      ())_.  address@hidden,gnu.org}
Research Scientist   ( '/   http://tkd.kicks-ass.net
GNU Hacker           / )=   http://www.gnu.org/software/libtool
Technical Author   `(_~)_   http://sources.redhat.com/autobook
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