in defense of "contributor agreements" or whatever they are called nowadays
Posted Apr 12, 2011 21:22 UTC (Tue) by wahern
In reply to: in defense of "contributor agreements" or whatever they are called nowadays
Parent article: Project Harmony decloaks
Looks like the FSF assignment has similar representation language:
I hereby represent and warrant that I am the sole copyright holder for the
Work and that I have the right and power to enter into this contract. I
hereby indemnify and hold harmless the Foundation, its officers, employees,
and agents against any and all claims, actions or damages (including
attorney's reasonable fees) asserted by or paid to any party on account of a breach or alleged breach of the foregoing warranty.
Fraud is illegal. Erroneously authorizing rights is also illegal, and has the same strict liability as use infringement.
Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following.... 17 U.S.C. 106.
It just seems a little gratuitous for individual contributors (as opposed to corporate contributors) to indemnify the FSF when the contributor already has every motivation to be honest. A lone programmer is not much of a target for litigation, but the FSF is a larger target, and by indemnifying the FSF a contributor has significantly increased their own exposure. But I guess if the chance of the FSF actually being sued is miniscule, it hardly matters.
Interestingly, the Ubuntu agreement seems much more favorable to the contributor:
9. I have not created or assigned to Canonical the Assigned Contributions in breach of My employment or any other contract.
10. To the best of My knowledge I have the legal right to enter into this assignment and have not infringed any third party's intellectual property rights in creating and assigning the Assigned Contributions to Canonical.
Two noteworthy differences here. There's no express indemnification. But also the catch-all clause 10 requires knowing breach or infringement, which is infinitely more fair to the contributor. So unless he gets wrong the work for hire status or other contractual interest in the contribution (strict representation in clause 9), his exposure is much less. Although, the applicable law is nominally English law according to clause 12. But unless English law implies those things just discussed then on first blush, kudos to Ubuntu.
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