Re: New 'Public Domain' Licence
Michael K. Edwards wrote (with spacing fixed):
> 2) the "50% rule" applies to _authorship_, which connotes (per
> Aalmuhammed v. Lee) a degree of creative control so high that, e.
> g.,there is no candidate for "authorship" of the Linux kernel other
> than Linus Torvalds;
I've read the cited case, and it does not seem to apply well to the
Linux kernel. The first problem is that not all versions of Linux have
Linus as having sole control over the work; Linux 2.0, 2.2., and 2.4 are
all controlled by people other than him. The same applies to all the
various branches (-ac, -mm, etc.).
The second problem is that Linus allows a large amount of effective
control over the kernel to his section maintainers; while he can of
course say no to their changes, he generally delegates that decision to
The third is that large parts of the kernel are written by diverse
people and are not actually part of an inseperable whole at all;
examples include drivers. Some of these, for example, are used on xBSD
The fourth is that the cited case involves things certainly not relevant
to Linux, such as a "work for hire" agreement being signed.
In short, Aalmuhammed was hired to offer advice, not to create parts of
the movie. He had no control over the movie. This is not at all how
large contributions to the kernel work.
As a typical example, let's say I have a Foo Corp video card, which is
not supported by Linux. I reverse-engineer the hardware interface, and
write a driver. After a good deal of testing, I submit it to
linux-kernel (the kernel mailing list). I have had full control over
this work; I am its author. Several people on linux-kernel provide
suggestions; by the standards in Aalmuhammed v. Lee, they are not
co-authors. After I make those minor changes, the person in charge of
video drivers accepts my driver, and forwards it to Linus, who includes
it in the kernel tarball. What has happened here is that Linus (and
possible some others) have created a collection, which is probably in
itself copyrightable. He/they are indeed the author of that collection;
however, I am still the author of my part of that collection.