Making kernel license upgradeable
Posted Oct 15, 2004 3:00 UTC (Fri) by jamesh
In reply to: Making kernel license upgradeable
Parent article: Buying the kernel
It's even safer than the FSF social contract in assuring the code will remain GPL'd and won't ever be closed. I explain myself: in the case of a liquidation (if the FSF went bankrupt), the successor could close-source all of the GNU code, because it all belongs to the FSF.
I think you are wrong here. If the FSF went bankrupt and someone bought their assets, they couldn't just buy the copyrights, they'd be buying the copyright assignment contracts signed by the original copyright holders.
Unlike some copyright assignment contracts, the FSF one actually places some restrictions on what the assignee can do with the work. For instance, there is the 1999 contract I signed for some modifications to a GNU program included the following text:
The Foundation promises that all distribution of the Work, or of
any work "based on the Work", that takes place under the control of
the Foundation or its assignees, shall be on terms that explicitly
and perpetually permit anyone possessing a copy of the work to
which the terms apply, and possessing accurate notice of these
terms, to redistribute copies of the work to anyone on the same
terms. These terms shall not restrict which members of the public
copies may be distributed to. These terms shall not require a
member of the public to pay any royalty to the Foundation or to
anyone else for any permitted use of the work they apply to, or to
communicate with the Foundation or its agents in any way either
when redistribution is performed or on any other occasion.
If the FSF or its assignees (that would include people who bought their assets in the case of bankruptcy) do not abide by the terms, then there is no contract and ownership of the copyright would revert.
Do you really think an organisation smart enough to come up with the GPL would leave such a large loophole in their assignment contracts?
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