license <-> copyright

Frank Hecker frank at
Fri Mar 2 17:09:29 UTC 2001

Toon Knapen wrote:
> John Cowan wrote:
> > Toon Knapen wrote:
> > > For instance : is it best that
> > > all developers in an open-source project transfer
> > > their copyright to the project manager ?
> >
> > That is a matter of opinion.  Only the copyright holder
> > can sue for infringement, so centralizing it in one place
> > can be useful in case of a lawsuit.  The FSF holds
> > the copyright on GNU works for that reason.
> Do you mean that, if you release your work under
> the GPL license that the FSF becomes automatically
> the copyright owner ?

No. "GNU works" in this context does not mean "works licensed under the
GPL", it means works whose development has been sponsored and supported
by the Free Software Foundation as part of its GNU project. (Examples
include GNU Emacs, GCC, etc.) For such works the FSF has traditionally
asked contributors to assign copyright on their contributions to the
FSF; these assignments are done through separate written agreements.

> This would be the inverse of my first question asking/
> saying that the copyright holder can define the license.
> Does thus the GPL license define the copyright holder ?

No. Anyone who holds valid copyright to a software product can release
that product under the GPL. Use of the GPL does not affect their status
as copyright holder.

Frank Hecker            work:
frank at        home:

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