[rms at gnu.org: Some problems on gnucash.org]

Linas Vepstas linas at austin.ibm.com
Fri Aug 11 16:13:17 EDT 2006

On Thu, Aug 10, 2006 at 05:16:32PM -0400, Chris Shoemaker wrote:
> Hi Linas,
>         If we're talking about the same "standard" FSF assignment
> form, it's designed to assign copyright of the entire existing
> Work, not just future changes.  That's why they require that the
> Assigner(s) be sole copyright holder(s) for the Work.  Was that
> requirement met?

I'm going to have trouble answering that, because that is not how
I remember the assignments working.  The way I remember/understood it
was that the assignment simply allows the assignee to claim copyright. 
The code is essentially forked at that time, with the original author
retaining copyright in one forked branch, and asignee is allowed to 
claim copyright on the other. Insofar as these two copies are the 
same, the net effect is that the original author retains copyright,
and FSF can claim copyright as well.  I do not remember any 
provisions for sole authorship.

I am not a lawyer; the above is my recollection of what I thought 
I'd signed six years ago.

>         Robert Merkel claimed that no copyright had been assigned on
> July 6, 2001.  (His last contribution was in May, 2001.)  Was that
> true?

I would have to dig through a file cabinet in the garage. Although
different people signed these at different times, and some had to be
nagged, I was under the impression that everyone signed them. But 
maybe not.

>         More to the point, if the FSF had been assigned copyright to
> all of GnuCash in 2000, why did you and others continue to mark files
> as copyright held by yourselves?  

Because that is my understanding of how the assignment works.

> The whole thing seems very messy,
> especially since GnuCash has been actively developed since then by
> developers that never signed an assignment contract.

Why should this matter?

>         I'm pretty confused by the implication that FSF became the
> copyright holder for GnuCash in 2000, 

They would not be the sole copyright holder, they would be one among
many. There are maybe 20 or 30 or more copyright holders, depending 
on how you wish to treat small patches.

The only copyright concern I have is that I remember catching a certain
Gnumatic employee going through the files fairly systematically,
removing older copyright notices, and placing thier name in instead.
This is a major violation as far as I'm concerned.  I beleive I caught 
this early, and put a stop to it; I am not sure if all files were
restored to thier original condition.  On the other hand, another
employee, Rob Browning, systematically failed to add his name to 
the files he authored, even after being asked repeatedly to do so. 
Funny how that goes.


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