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Re: Releasing software sponsored by an employer

On Wed, 2005-02-11 at 10:55 -0500, John Morrissey wrote:
As part of my "day job," I'm working on a piece of Debian-specific software.
I would like to release it under the GPL and the company is receptive [...]
Good for them and good for you.
Obviously, since it was written using their time and resources, they hold
copyright on it.
That's not the reason that they hold copyright on it, though; it's because you have an employment relationship. If I lived in my parents' basement and wrote software on their computer, I'd still have copyright on the work I'd created. If you write a novel on a stolen typewriter, you still hold copyright on the novel.
They would like to retain ownership, so copyright
assignment or a quit claim isn't feasible. (In other words, we don't want to
follow the GPL's fictitious Yoyodyne example where the company disclaims
Yeah, that Yoyodyne example sure is a relic of a different time, isn't it? "Version 69"! HYUK HYUK HYUK!
I'm wondering what kind of documentation we should have that explicitly
authorizes me to release this software (copyright still held by the company)
to the public under a DFSG compliant license.
A standard GPL copyright notice, with the company's name (preferably full legal name) in the <name of author> slot. (No, the company is not the author; that's the slot where the copyright-holder's name goes, and the GPL assumes that the author and rightsholder are one and the same.)

You'll probably want to give your own name and contact info somewhere else in the source code and documentation.


Evan Prodromou <evan@debian.org>
The Debian Project (http://www.debian.org/)

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