Nees help selecting a license

Mikko Valimaki mikko.valimaki at
Thu Apr 10 05:22:00 UTC 2003

By the way, I am lawyer, though only in Europe :)

The original question was if in order to "clear" copyright developers 
should either (1) rewrite the code submissions or (2) get (written) 
copyright assignments.

I proposed rewriting where Andy Tai replied:

> Isn't this risky as the reimplementations of the
> patches are not clean room?

Now isn't relying on a copyright assignment much more risky? You cannot 
ever be sure that the one who assigns you the copyright is in reality 
the legal owner of that piece of code.

1. In many countries the employer owns by definition all code written by 
employees. Therefore, an individual coder has no authority to assign the 
copyright to any code he contributes to open source projects which he 
has written while at work. Is this common in practise? I don't know. It 
is at least possible and we know there are companies hostile to open 
source who might sue.

2. You never know if the code submission was originally stolen from some 
third party. Take DeCSS as a popular example. Does anyone know if Jon 
Johanssen really wrote it before submitting it in public? (sure, the 
example is biased because that piece of code might be illegal anyway and 
therefore the original authors won't sue anyone...).

3. In open source development some code contributors might be anonymous. 
In many countires, a copyright assigment between you and Mickey Mouse is 


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