Subject: Re: Language question
From: "Abe Kornelis" <>
Date: Thu, 8 May 2003 21:37:02 +0200


as usual I inserted my comments in between. Please see below.
btw: an updated version of the license text has just been
uploaded to:

> On Wed, 7 May 2003, Abe Kornelis wrote:
> > --> What I mean is that I might die and my wife would inherit all rights
> > I have. Also I might sell my copyrights (or give them away) to a
> > In either case, I would expect that the transfer of rights does not
> > invalidate any rights the users have.
> <snip>
> > That is, any obligations incurred would remain valid. E.g. the
> > obligation not to withdraw contributions from the open-source community.
> Why do you see this as an obligation?  You have no obligation to continue
> publishing your contributions to anyone.
**** Well, for one thing, I accept contributions provided that I may use
in any version (open-source or other) of the software. In return I accept
obligation to make these contributions available under the original license
as well. If I fail to do the latter I am breaking my promise and not
my obligations. Contributors would *rightly* be angered if their
would be used for closed-source enhancements, leaving the issue of
open-source distribution to others.
If I take on an obligation I do see it as my duty to do whatever I can
to ensure that what I've promised will be done. Even if I cannot
prevent any and all possible problems, at least I should try to prevent
obvious routes to 'fraud' - to put it black-and-white.

> > --> As stated above, I was thinking of obligations that relate to the
> > software.
> I don't think there are any such obligations, unless you've made them
> seperately (such as a 3-year written offer under GPLv2 section 3b).  Even
> so, this obligation remains on you (or your estate), not on a copyright
> assignee.
**** Even when, as described above, the obligation relates directly to
the rights involved. Software with contributions, received under obligation
publishing under the original open-source license, should be capable of
being sold separately from the obligations to the original author. I would
think this is an issue, or am I chasing a white whale?

> Indeed.  I recommend contributors NOT assign copyright of their derived
> works, but instead make them available under a compatible license.
**** That looks like one very good idea. Thus each contribution would be
solely by its original author. I see - definitely - a drawback: when a
version is being made then all authors have to give their fiat. After a few
it is likely that some of the authors will no longer be traceable. Some of
may not care much how their contributions is used as long as it remains
available under the original license, yet others may have all kinds of
objections - probably incompatible with each other as a bonus.
I think I prefer to settle all such matters beforehand, rather than
after a few years, when it may be impossible to disentangle contributions
from one or two contributors who would not have their stuff appear
in a closed version.

> > The complete software package is withdrawn from open source by company
> > B.
> Nope.  Company B can release new work under proprietary licenses, and can
> stop distributing the open-source version, but any copies of the
> open-source work are still there, and can be freely copied and further
> modified by anyone who wishes.
**** And how about contributions that have been provided, were
scheduled to be incorporated into the next release, but never got
that far? It is then up to the contributor to distribute his stuff to the
public. Will he/she be able to locate those interested in it?

> > There goes the work we have collectively put into the contributions.
> It's still there, just no longer supported by a company.  The community
> has lost nothing.
**** That depends on whether or not such contributions can make
it into the cimmunity without active involvement of the owner of the


Kind regards, Abe Kornelis.

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