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More mmcache concerns

On Wed, 5 Jan 2005, Elizabeth Fong wrote:

>Can someone look at http://bugs.debian.org/280864 please?  It is
>likely we'll need legal advice to proceed.

>Quick summary of the situation:
>2001 to 2002? - Dmitry Stogov wrote Turck-MMCache on contract to
>Turcksoft St. Petersburg
>2002-12-09 - Turck-MMCache released as GPL by Turcksoft with Turcksoft
>copyright notice; despite need to be linked against PHP, no license
>exception provided, resulting in undistributability of binaries.
>2003 - Dmitry Stogov hired by Zend; development on MMCache stops
(presumably because they put him to work on Zend Optimizer, and didn't
>want him contributing to a competing project)
>2003-11-04 - Last release of MMCache (2.4.6)
>2003-12 - Turcksoft pulls its web page offline (see
>http://web.archive.org/web/*/http://www.turckware.ru for evidence)
>2004-03-02 - Jonathan Oxer uploads first turck-mmcache Debian package to main
>2004-11 - Turcksoft's domains expire, and Turcksoft goes completely dead.
>2004-12 - eAccelerator forks from MMCache; however, license must
>remain GPL (not solving our problems); in addition, copyright notice
>ALTERED to remove Turcksoft and replace with Dmitry's name, possibly
>resulting in copyright violation

>Now, we have an undistributable codebase, due to licensing concerns,
>and the holder of the copyright has gone defunct.  The forked project
>may be providing good code, but there are doubts about its legality,
>as well as the fact that the GPL license issue still remains.

>Turck-MMCache has become abandonware, but we likely still have our
>hands tied by copyright law.

>Jonathan Oxer:
>> The big question though (and this is where legal advice may be required)
>> is what happens to copyright when the copyright owner ceases to exist?
>> According to copyright law the copyright for works made "for hire"
>> exists for 95 years from the date of publication or 120 years from the
>> date of creation, whichever is shorter.
>> It's considered "work for hire" so unless he had a
>> contract with Turcksoft to the contrary he is *not* the copyright
>> holder.

>So... I guess the question is, what _can_ we do?


	1) Authorship and|or initial copyright ownership in
international scope is usually determined according to the law of
the country of origin.

	2) Russia, like, AFAIK, many european countries does not
have a legal concept of "selling" the entire copyright title.
Copyright exclusive rights here may be licensed, but not "sold".

	3) Russian copyright law (or civil law in general)
provides no explicit way to transfer entire copyright title from one
legal entity to another. And especially it does not provides a way
to transfer copyright title from now-nonexistent legal entity (you
even cannot grant full exclusive license if you do not exist).
Copyright title may be transferred by inheritance, but inheritance
is only for humans.

	4) Consequently, it is not clear, what happens to the
corporate copyright when copyright holder gets liquidated. There
exists several legal theories. One of them, most pleasant to me, is
that copyright cease to exist and work virtually falls in the public
domain. Other theory (which sees a work for hire as a sort of
implicit license) says that copyright goes to the author(s) of the
work. Third theory claims that copyright can be sold on auction
during liquidation process but, AFAIK, nobody so far really tried to
do this, so it is a mostly wishful thinking and do not solve the
problem anyway.

	5) If corporate entity does not liquidated (according the
article 61 of Russian Civil Code), but reorganised (article 57) or
asquired by some other company, then copyright  title goes to the
latter company.

	6) So, if Turcksoft is really liquidated and do not have any
successors, then, depending of legal theory you prefer :-), MMCache
either falls in the public domain or copyrighted by   Dmitry Stogov.
In both cases it seems to be sufficient to recieve needed
additional permissions from Stogov. See his email in google groups.

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