Question Regarding Copyright Issue For An Open Source Project

Ben Tilly btilly at
Fri Jul 31 21:00:51 UTC 2009

2009/7/31 Dag-Erling Smørgrav <des at>:
> David Woolley <forums at> writes:
>> Yan Cheng Cheok <yccheok at> writes:
>> > In order to avoid this type of conflict, shall I enforce all
>> > commited source code shall be copyright under me?
>> That is done.  The Free Software Foundation actually does this.
> That's not why they do it, AFAIK - they do it so they can more easily
> prosecute people who violate the license.

I have to disagree on the basis of the fact that they never actually
wind up prosecuting.  However they do work hard to dot every i and
cross every t.  There are a number of reasons to do this.  For
instance it means that they catch things like unintentional works for
hire.  (If you're a professional employee in the state of NY, what you
do on your own time probably doesn't belong to you.  Lots of people
forget that and makes mistakes.  The FSF is one of the few projects
that will never have a problem with that.)

> If you want to do the same (for whichever reason), make sure you get it
> on paper, and keep in mind that someone could decide to fork your code
> rather than transfer their copyright to you.

If you really want to do it right, try to contact the contributer's
employer as well.  Because of the work for hire issue I just brought

>> In many countries, the USA is a notable exception, it is a legal right
>> (moral rights) for contributors to request that their contribution be
>> recognized.
> That's always a good idea, even if it's not legally required.  People
> might be more inclined to transfer the copyright for their contributions
> if they know they'll still get attribution.

Besides, it is just the right thing to do.


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