A way to assign copyright globally

A way to assign copyright globally

Summary: The FLA mainly takes the burden of worrying about international copyright law out of the programmer's hands and places it in the hands of people who care about such things.

TOPICS: Open Source

FSF-Europe LogoOpen source is a global movement in a world without a global law.

While a U.S. court has ruled open source licenses are copyright, assuring that in other courts remains a challenge.

The challenge only grows when projects extend across borders, with multiple contributors in 10,000 different places. .

So the acceptance of something called the Fiduciary License Agreement (FLA) by FSF-Europe, and its adoption by the KDE project (a Linux GUI) is a pretty big deal.

On the surface it's a simple license assignment, a way to pass control of contributions from developers to a project. But it also allows projects to be re-licensed, which is important for their viability and flexibility.

Therein hangs the controversy.

Why re-license if you're not going to do a proprietary fork, some ask? The fear that a project may take copyleft code and use the FLA to turn it into a source of proprietary profit is real.

I disagree. The FLA mainly takes the burden of worrying about international copyright law out of the programmer's hands and places it in the hands of people who care about such things, and who will protect the code under the FLA's terms..

There's another important issue here, that of "orphan" copyrights.

The extension of copyright to near-infinity, meant to maintain Disney and other movie companies, leaves us with a lot of stuff noone you can get a legal sign-off on.

People die, obscure code seems to acquire new value, and there is no one to go to for permission. The FLA solves this problem.

So would you sign an FLA?

Topic: Open Source

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  • So would you sign an FLA?

    Not yet. I don't know what the safe guards are. Sometimes the change from that which is free to that which is out of freedom's reach is one of small unnoticed steps. The Open Source code base represents a fat calf to hungry and desperate proprietary interests. To answer the question: How will proprietary interests feast on Open Source? Ans: Any way they can.
  • Wary

    While I believe the KDE team to be supporters of software freedom it's still prudent to be wary.

    There are always various interests who would love to co-opt free software to supplement their own closed systems.
    Tim Patterson
    • The future

      Another thing to consider,

      We don't know what will happen in the future. A developer who retains copyright on his/her creations has control. By assigning copyrights under the FLA the developer cedes control to a third party. What happens if 1, 5, or even 10yrs down the road KDE e.V. decides to re-license using the BSD license or a less free, or even proprietary license? The actual developer of the code will have no say in the matter.<br>

      <a href="http://www.dtschmitz.com/dts/2008/08/kde-fla-re-licensing-kde.html">The Scoop</a>
      Tim Patterson
  • Hacker cites U.S. case for innocence


    But, the Chinese online community is crying foul. They say Bill Gates silently permitted Hong's operations for years, and had effectively put Windows into the public domain. Implied license, laches, estoppel, statute of limitations, case laws -- the Chinese are quick to learn all those American legal hoopla and shell game.