A bit of a mountain out of a molehill, I think.
Posted Mar 19, 2013 16:32 UTC (Tue) by bkuhn
Parent article: When does the FSF own your code?
Speaking as a member of FSF's Board of Directors,
I can tell you that the FSF copyright assignment agreement is under
near-constant review, and has been for decades. The agreement can be
canceled by the developer and further changes made thereafter wouldn't be
It sounds to me like Jambunathan is exploring whether or not he wants to
cancel this assignment. That's his right, but it's interesting to note that
Jambunathan hasn't canceled yet. Presumably, he is exploring the
cost-benefit analysis as to whether he'd like his new code to continue to be
concluded in the FSF's canonical distribution of Emacs or not.
Anyway, it's unfortunate the Corbet's article above doesn't reiterate the
advantages of assigning to FSF to developers. Specifically, the FSF takes on
the obligation of being the publisher of the code (which can sometimes be a
dangerous act in today's world), and also, FSF handles enforcement of the GPL
for the codebase. Finally, FSF gives a liberal license back to the developer
(i.e., Jambunathan could have always made proprietary software out of his
own assigned works after doing the assignment), and FSF
further promises never to publish a proprietary version of the software
Finally, given the liberal license grant-back and the realities of the
general nature of private changes, the comment in the article about what
happens with private changes seems like a red herring to me.
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