[ECOS] APB - Copyright assignment

Alex Schuilenburg alexs@ecoscentric.com
Wed Oct 7 23:10:00 GMT 2009


Øyvind Harboe wrote:
> [...]
> I think it's good to have an enlightened discussion on this without contributing
> to open source FUD. Given a choice, I use eCos code w/copyright
> assignment, but otherwise GPL + exception and a reasonable confidence
> in that the original author was in his right to contribute the code suffices.
>   
Also note that just copyright assignment is only a third of the story. 
With eCos assignments the contributor is also assigning the right to use
the IP and any code which may be patented by the author in the future,
as well as establishing true ownership of the code.

For example, I may write code that utilises some patented technology
which requires that I license the technology in order to be able to use
it in my device.  I can contribute the copyright and license the code
under whatever license I choose, but the fact that I am using a patented
algorithm or suchlike means that anyone using the code is subject to
licensing the patent from the owner.  Not me the author of the code or
person assigning the copyright, but the owner of the patent.

Yes, software patents suck especially when the code is bleeding obvious,
so sign up to http://stopsoftwarepatents.eu/

This is second third of the story and why it is important for
contributed code to have a proper assignment before it can be
contributed into eCos.  Namely, to prevent the inadvertent introduction
of unlicensed use of patented technology into eCos and to allow the
continued use of the technology within eCos should it later be patented
by the author.

The final third is simply ensuring that the code really is theirs to
assign.  As mentioned previously, most code is originally owned not by
the authors, but by the company that employs them.  It also is there to
prevent someone taking another's code (under another license, GPL for
example), rework it for eCos, and to contribute it to eCos as their own.
You cannot take GPL code and modify it for contribution to eCos as that
modified code is derived, and therefore GPL'ed, and so does not satisfy
the acceptance criteria for eCos.  (Unless of course you are the
original author and owner of the copyright of the GPL code and hence can
relicense it under whatever license you like - e.g. YAFFS).

-- Alex Schuilenburg



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