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[Discuss] OSS licenses (was Home NAS redux)

On Thu, Jan 10, 2013 at 9:41 AM, Edward Ned Harvey (blu)
<blu at> wrote:
>> From: John Abreau [mailto:abreauj at]
>> Another silly claim. The FSF cannot sue Joe on behalf of the copyright holder.
>> The FSF can only sue if the copyright was assigned to the FSF.
>> The FSF would not be entitled to sue Joe Schmoe unless Joe Schmoe violated
>> the license on something for which the FSF held the copyright.
> busybox is not copyrighted to the FSF.  Its individual files are copyrighted to a zillion different individuals.
> But it looks like I did make one mistake:  It wasn't the FSF, it was the SFLC, Software Freedom Law Center, who filed lawsuit on behalf of two guys, who contributed to busybox development.  But the people who originated busybox were not represented, nor benefitted from the settlements.
> So it seems, if you want to sue somebody on behalf of somebody else's open source software, you just need contribute to it (or fork it and then contribute to it), and find some way that a recipient was in violation of the license terms.

"two guys who contributed to busybox development"?   A quick check
seems to show that they had both been the principal maintainers of
BusyBox for a combined total of something like 7 or 8 years.   I would
compare their position to the one that Linus Torvalds currently holds
for Linux.   Now, while it is true that they aren't the people who
released the first version of BusyBox, I'm not as quite as willing as
you to dismiss what would appear to be considerable work on their part
to enhance and maintain it.   You seem to want to allow only the
person(s) who wrote and released the first version of any code
included in a GPLed program to be able assert their copyright.   So
only Linus could sue for enforcement on Linux.  In your view of how
licenses should be enforced, then FSF's policy of wanting copyright
assignment is the only way to prevent a GPLed program from becoming
effectively public domain at the death of the author is to assign the
copyright to an organization rather then leaving it with the original
author.   If Linus was to get hit by a bus, then Linux would
effectively become public domain; because nobody else should be
morally allowed to enforce their copyright in the work.

You also keep implying that there are substantial financial benefits
received by people/entities who attempt to enforce free software
licenses.   I would request that you provide some evidence of this.
I'm not saying they didn't make some money (I don't know).   I'm just
suggesting that it is not substantial.

Bill Bogstad

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