[ECOS] Are copyright assignments detrimental to eCos?
Mon Apr 7 12:18:00 GMT 2008
Jiri Gaisler wrote on 2008-04-04 17:51:
> Alex Schuilenburg wrote:
>> Anyway, forking is not in our interest, never mind the community's.
>> We want the benefits that contributions to eCos bring, as does
>> everyone else. eCosPro is not a fork, it is a superset of eCos. See
>> What you seem to be suggesting is that you want everyone else *but*
>> eCosCentric to benefit from your potential contribution.
> What I am saying is that I want everyone to benefit from our
> *and* from potential derivate work in form of bug fixes. Just like the
> linux kernel. Everyone sees the same kernel code, while applications and
> drivers can be proprietary if desired. It seems to me that insisting on
> FSF copyright transfer blocks this in some way.
You are incorrect. Speak to the FSF or a copyright and licensing lawyer
if you don't believe me. Copyright assignment in this case has nothing
to do with what you suggest. The copyright assignment of eCos to the
FSF is all about protection of the code and guaranteeing that it remains
free to all.
I don't know of *any* free open source software license that does what
you suggest. Free Open Source licenses may force you to make the changes
to the source code available (GPL and derivatives), but I now of none
that force you to contribute or publish changes.
And just to give a totally hypothetical example: if all your code and
changes are GPL+ex, there is nothing legally stopping any commercial
organisation which legally obtains your source code from integrating
these changes into their own source code base, add their own
fixes/improvements and then distributing these changes as part of their
*own* eCos distribution - as long as the license remains the same(ish -
for the nitpickers ;-). In fact some companies make a living doing
exactly this with other free open source projects. Of course these
companies could not contribute your code to the FSF, since they do not
own the copyright, but they could contribute their changes (not that the
changes would IMHO be accepted into eCos anoncvs because the changes
would apply to code that does not exist, so pretty pointless). These
companies could also not prevent *you* from taking this contribution to
eCos anoncvs and integrating it into *your* own distribution either.
I would also just like to point out that you also *cannot* then
integrate any changes that have been published under the GPL or GPL+ex
and integrate those changes into a non-GPL distribution. e.g.
Improvements to dual licensed code (e.g. GPL and a proprietary license)
that are published under the GPL license cannot then be brought into the
proprietary license without making all that code GPL as well (unless of
course you held the copyright of the improved code). Think back to what
used to happen when eCos copyright was held by Red Hat and licensed
under the RHEPL - Red Hat could take *your* RHEPL contributions and
relicense them under a proprietary commercial license. Ever wonder why
eCos was relicensed under GPL+ex and the copyright contributed to the FSF?
And FAOD, *every* copyright contribution made to eCosCentric while the
switch of eCos copyright from Red Hat to the FSF was happening has been
contributed to the FSF, just as we said we would, and has *never* been
published under any license other than GPL+ex nor been released as part
of eCosPro *before* being integrated into eCos anoncvs.
> We are still maintaining
> our own ecos fork (superset), but I would rather see everything merged
> to anoncvs. But I respect the policy of the anoncvs maintainers and
> eCoscentric, so we will keep it as is for them time being.
If you claim superset rather than branch, I assume you must also be
doing regular internal merges with anoncvs to allow your users to
benefit from any fixes and improvements that go into the main eCos
anoncvs source base? Do users of your own port have to contribute the
copyright of changes or improvements to your code to you as well (to
maintain the legal status and protection of copyright that eCos
currently enjoys), and where are the changes published?
These are all questions you need to think about when keeping your own
Anyway, nobody is trying to force you to contribute here. I am just
trying to show you some of the benefits contributions can make to your
users, the community as well as yourself. Your changes and improvements
are yours to do with as you see fit, subject to licensing of course ;-)
-- Alex Schuilenburg
Managing Director/CEO eCosCentric Limited
Tel: +44 1223 245571 Barnwell House, Barnwell Drive
Fax: +44 1223 248712 Cambridge, CB5 8UU, UK
www.ecoscentric.com Reg in England and Wales, Reg No 4422071
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