Individual authors recognition

Philippe Verdy verdy_p at
Fri Jun 6 15:32:51 UTC 2008

Xavier Grehant [mailto:xavier.grehant at] wrote:
> Philippe Verdy wrote:
> > May be what you're looking for is the Artistic License.
> Indeed, this is the one I chose in the end. I especially like 
> the exclusion of works "that merely extend or make use of the Package"
> like "scripts" or "interfaces". These are easy ways to hide 
> the origin of a work, and I'm glad to find a license that 
> takes care of it.
> Thank you Philippe for your in-depth answer.

Despite the "moral rights" are not directly recognized with the same level
of protection in US than in Europe, they are recognized internationally if
they are protected in a country with a relevant law that has been given as
an instrument of ratification of international treaties covering
"intellectual rights".

We all know that the FSF does not like the terminology "intellectual rights"
because it is too broad, however it now exists internationally even if most
countries are covering them with separate legislations (under WIPO they are
covered as distinct chapters, even if they are linked by the same treaties,
because the separation of each domain of legislation is difficult and
different across countries)

France has a very extensive legislation covering all "interllectual rights"
now within the same laws: it covers the copyrights, distribution rights,
author's rights, artistic rights, licencing conditions and users rights,
patents, trademarks, various moral rights, all derived rights, and many
related areas named "droits voisins" in French; however patents still don't
apply to software, but rights of workers are not directly part of it as they
are negociated with unions represented in parity commissions, in a still
distinct legislation system and different and simplified juridical
procedures (using ombudsmen and parity courts composed of qualified judges
just there to apply the law, elected representants of employers, and elected
representants of workers).

Do you expect your licence to require that any contribution added as a
modification to a licenced product be subject also to the author's rights
protection, and require that they are named explicitly? I don't think this
should be a requirement that has to be transported further to all recipients
of the modified code.

My humble rationale is that the open-source and free softwares better
benefit if they can accept the contribution made by every personality, even
if this personality is an organization: it is legitimate for an organization
to get the same benefits in terms of reputation when it has hired and paid
qualified developers to make the code, and then decided to publish the code
instead of keeping it internally for its own use (or reselling it if
permitted by the licence):

Authors (developers) are not necessarily abused of their rights even in this
case (where only the organization would be named in the copyright
statement), because they also have their own legal protection under work
laws and in their contracts, or in branch agreements with work unions. What
a licence could do however, is to restrict an organization to name other
"authors" than the effective ones: an authorized publisher from that
organization is not an author. But is it really needed in most developed and
democratic countries, due to the pressure done now on workers by competition
with other developing countries?

I don't think so, because now the most serious issue comes now from
technical limitations introduced to limit users rights, and in the broken
patenting system that permits retroactive effects.

[side note]
Consider for example the patent that has been registered in Australia, then
in Singapore and US for protecting and licencing the association of an image
and a link to some remote site or to a page of contact; it is granted
starting in 2000, even though the concept was invented and used in many
places much earlier (but the patent was kept secret for many years before
"" started to sell licences for it in Singapore).
I hope that such broken patent (which could be even worse than the past
issue on GIF images) that affects almost everybody on the web will be
invalidated, but the fact that US has accepted it is really a bad sign:
invalidating broken patents is extremely complicate and costly (and I hope
that Australia will not accept the renewal of the initial broken patent, so
that this will consequently invalidate the one granted recently in US).
May be it's true that there's was no "prior art" available in Australia at
the time of initial patent grant (this has probably not been really tested),
but this was certainly not true in other countries. We can see now patents
attempting to extend their application and steal the existing rights used
since long in other countries, no verification is made to help protect the
original authors and users.
[/side note]

But note that even in the case of artistic creations (like the publication
of books), the effective authors are frequently hidden (they're paid for the
time needed to design or package the creation), i.e. someone else is
displayed and advertized on the front cover and for the promotion of the
artistic product. The efective authors are nicknamed "nègres" in French (I
don't know the term used in English). The protection of their right is part
of their job contract and work laws. This is a situation clearly similar to
the position of developers working for an IT company.

There are different ways to work and contribute to a project, but I think
that every participant (individual or corporate) should be able to choose
himself how to protect his contributions: nobody is forced to work for an
organization and eveyone can negociate the terms applicable to his job (I
suppose this is not a situation of slavery), and I think that there's now
enough laws in democratic countries to protect the legitimate rights of
workers againt abuses by employers.

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