On assignment as it relates to enforcement
Posted Dec 21, 2012 1:50 UTC (Fri) by bkuhn
In reply to: On assignment as it relates to enforcement
Parent article: GnuTLS, copyright assignment, and GNU project governance
Why not, instead of transferring copyright, have contributors give some kind of right of representation? I.e. grant the right to act on behalf of the copyright owner when it came to copyright infringement, to the extent needed to negotiate for and/or sue for any damage or restitution? Give the copyright holder a right to veto any action perhaps.
[ Speaking purely on behalf of Conservancy first.]
Amusingly, you've basically precisely described the agreement that Conservancy makes with BusyBox, Linux and Samba copyright holders whom Conservancy represents. However, I'd point out again: this is the kind of a thing that violators love to use as a distraction to waste time. For example, if you read the history of the Conservancy v. Best Buy et al case, you'll see plenty of the Defendants arguing that Conservancy should be fully dismissed from participating in the action. Again, Conservancy found that argument incorrect and spurious, and the judge agreed and never dismissed us from the case as lead Plaintiff. Yet, I spent hours helping our lawyers draft responses on that issue, which they in turn spent many more hours on too!
That's what a lot of people don't understand about USA Court proceedings or indeed any type of legalistic enforcement action: the other side obsessively looks for every pointless issue they can find and then pretends it is the biggest show-stopping problem in the world. This is particularly true when you line a non-profit with very little resources up against a big, wealthy tech company who hires fancy $800/hour (or more!) lawyers. Their strategy is to wear you down by wasting your time. The simpler the situation, the easier the enforcement is.
[ Ok, putting both Conservancy and FSF hats on for the rest of the response.]
Conservancy has decided it wants to take on this complication, but I wouldn't begrudge FSF for not being sure it wants to have to do this work. I think the ideal situation is when the non-profit holds an overwhelming majority of the copyrights, as that would get most of the benefits of having all the copyright but still not make copyright assignment necessary for every little patch, but rather just from the really heavy contributors.
to post comments)