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Re: Group Copyright

On 20 Jul 2001, Thomas Bushnell, BSG wrote:

>I'm snipping the normal John Galt obstructionism, off-topic political
>commentary, and attempts to confuse issues, and responding only to the
>real questions.

No, snippage around you usually means an attempt to redefine the argument.

>John Galt <galt@inconnu.isu.edu> writes:
>> >This is dangerous, because the group has no legal reality as a rule.
>> >It doesn't mean you lose copyright, certainly, but it injects a vest
>> >doubt into "who is the group".  For example, if you write something,
>> >put it in the project, so that it's "owned by the group", and then
>> >stop participating in the group, there is now an anomaly.  The group
>> >name no longer accurately reflects the actual authors of the code;
>> >would the court follow the current membership of the group or not?
>> We've been over this, and my "randroid philosophy" is closer to the truth
>> than this claptrap.  Unorganized groups are becoming closer to having
>> legal standing.  Group membership can become a real problem, but I assume
>> that they'd be smart enough to make contingency plans around that.
>The status of unorganized groups is in great legal limbo.  Sure,
>courts do the best they can when confronted with the situation, but if
>you want to avoid hassle, the best thing to do is *avoid hassle* and
>not just shove it around.  If you think dealing with a long
>contributors list in copyrights is hassle, then surely you don't want
>the extra hassle of dealing with the status of an unorganized group in

A long way from your first refutation, which was that unorganized groups
categorically have no legal standing.

>> Yeah, so?  It's thorny, but it IS an option.  BTW, most of the laws you
>> mentioned are for publically held companies, not closely held ones.
>Um, that's not really true.  The hassle of corporation law is really
>quite awful; there are a lot of books promising "incorporate yourself
>now" as the great solution to lots of things, and in practice, it's
>strikingly bad.  But it's not so horrible you shouldn't ever do it.
>It's just that to do it right requires considerable legal expertise.
>If you don't do that, then there is real risk of doing it wrong.  And
>the point of this whole exercise is to avoid hassle.  The hassle of
>dealing with a badly-maintained corporation or badly-setup corporation
>is considerable (go ask the NetBSD project).

The way you put it, it's no point for a small business to incorporate.
This is belied by the number that do each year.


Lists that there are about 2 million C corporations in existence compared
to 1 million partnerships.  Considering that partnerships are the elder,
it would figure that if partnership (the list of thirty names) were
scalable, it would be numerically superior.

>Since the goal in this discussion was to avoid hassle, you only do
>that if you are careful to get the corporation set up *right*, and not
>just set up and hoping its right, and trusting the court to settle it
>out later.
>> >This is usually a winner.  Note that number (4) and number (3) really
>> >boil down to this one.  Except that it need not be a "third party"; it
>> >could just as easily be a lead developer on the project.  The FSF is
>> >always a fine choice; by assigning code to the FSF you don't lose any
>> >of your rights at all over it.  (The standard FSF assignment is not
>> >just a complete transfer of all rights.)
>> This is also the most sub-optimal, and 4 and 3 are assigning rights to a
>> actual stakeholder: I explicitly used third party here--one who is not by
>> definition a stakeholder.
>Well, by assignment I mean actual legal assignment.  I read (3) and
>(4) as informal changes in what you put in the copyright statements
>and not legal transfers of copyright.

A license is a contract, and wording within is binding.

>As is usual, when you get to the meat of the issue, you suddenly stop
>giving arguments.  Why exactly is it sub-optimal to assign to a
>third-party you trust, especially (as with FSF assignments) you don't
>lose any of your rights in the process?

Who says you don't lose any of your rights?  Is the FSF willing to sign
contracts to that effect?


<a mailto:galt@inconnu.isu.edu>Who is John Galt?</a>

Failure is not an option. It comes bundled with your Microsoft product.
	-- Ferenc Mantfeld

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