Software Copyright ownership

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Software Copyright ownership

Arnulf Christl
What do folks think about software Copyright ownership? OSGeo could
suggest that project steering committees move the Copyright of their
software under the hood of OSGeo as GeoTools and others already did. In
some cases the respective project steering committees might not be able
to do such a thing because they do not own it in the first place. Is
that a good situation?


To my knowledge (this needs verification) Apache has all its projects
under their own license and owns the copyright for the code. Very
straightforward. Outside of Open Source in the standards arena Google
has given the Copyright of KML to the OGC - which is good. In
OpenStreetMap not doing this has resulted in arguably unresolvable
licensing problems.


Let me predict that the "user community" (remember 2005/11) will
probably favor such an approach (and with big lamento) and that current
Copyright owners of code and trademarks might be rather more reluctant.


A recent example that shows what problems can be caused by not clearly
separating Copyright, business ownership and trademarks is MySQL. The
company "MySQL AB" operated the project "MySQL" and sold the product
"MySQL" under a dual licensing schema. Now MySQL AB (the company) is
owned by Oracle. Who owns the copyright of the project MySQL? And what
happens to the trademarks?

I generally do not agree with Monty[1] (twittered by James Fee) and
believe that he has other motivations and should have taken preventive
measures up front to avoid what is happening right now. But whatever the
outcome of this fight it for sure has been damaging to the project.

In a response/comment from Groklaw (twittered by Paul Ramsey):
http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20091021164738392

"And on what legal basis would anyone have authority to change the
license, other than the copyright holder? Are you seriously suggesting
that a regulatory body decide the license instead of the copyright
owner? What a reckless idea."


My private opinion on this issue is pretty clear: Move your Copyright to
OSGeo - all of it including trademarks, logos and designs. That is what
OSGeo is there for. Get it out of corporate reach, it is none of their
business (great analogy, hehe). Is their any advantage of keeping the
Copyright under a private property?


What I get back from corporate users of Open Source software these days
is the same, they would rather have the Copyright sit with a (real)
non-profit like OSGeo than anything else.


Just a last note: This thread might grow large (these soft topics where
everybody seems to be expert are abominable). Please do not use IANAL in
any post, just argue straight forward to your point.


/me slowly walks off for cover


Best regards,
Arnulf.

[1] http://monty-says.blogspot.com/2009/12/help-saving-mysql.html

--
Arnulf Christl

Exploring Space, Time and Mind
http://arnulf.us/
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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Christopher Schmidt
On Sun, Dec 13, 2009 at 03:58:01PM -0800, Arnulf Christl wrote:

> What do folks think about software Copyright ownership? OSGeo could  
> suggest that project steering committees move the Copyright of their  
> software under the hood of OSGeo as GeoTools and others already did. In  
> some cases the respective project steering committees might not be able  
> to do such a thing because they do not own it in the first place. Is  
> that a good situation?
>
>
> To my knowledge (this needs verification) Apache has all its projects  
> under their own license and owns the copyright for the code.

To be honest, after reviewing the way the Apache Foundation works, it's
not atall clear to me that we have a strong desire to follow their model.

A brief search turned up:
 * No list of contributors to the project
 * No obvious maintainership of a list of sources of code
 * No obvious documents indicating copyright assignment of any kind
   to the Apache Foundation.
 * No obvious requirements for Copyright Assignment (Only License
   Assignment, via CLA.)

> Very  
> straightforward. Outside of Open Source in the standards arena Google  
> has given the Copyright of KML to the OGC - which is good.

It's not clear to me to what extent 'KML' has a copyright; Google states that
"KML is an open standard officially named the OpenGIS® KML Encoding Standard
(OGC KML). It is maintained by the Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC). "

It is not clear to me that maintainership of a specification document
is at all equivilant to copyright of code.

> In  OpenStreetMap not doing this has resulted in arguably unresolvable
> licensing problems.

In OpenStreetMap, having all contributors agree to place data under
a copyright license has caused a problem. ALthough if the data were owned
by some entity, that entity would be able to change the license, it is
not clear to me that the problem is that this wasn't the case; instead
the problem was that the license chosen was not the right one (though it
seemed the best option at the time) because it didn't do what people
thought it did.

> A recent example that shows what problems can be caused by not clearly  
> separating Copyright, business ownership and trademarks is MySQL. The  
> company "MySQL AB" operated the project "MySQL" and sold the product  
> "MySQL" under a dual licensing schema. Now MySQL AB (the company) is  
> owned by Oracle. Who owns the copyright of the project MySQL? And what  
> happens to the trademarks?
>
> I generally do not agree with Monty[1] (twittered by James Fee) and  
> believe that he has other motivations and should have taken preventive  
> measures up front to avoid what is happening right now. But whatever the  
> outcome of this fight it for sure has been damaging to the project.
>
> In a response/comment from Groklaw (twittered by Paul Ramsey):
> http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20091021164738392
>
> "And on what legal basis would anyone have authority to change the  
> license, other than the copyright holder? Are you seriously suggesting  
> that a regulatory body decide the license instead of the copyright  
> owner? What a reckless idea."
>
>
> My private opinion on this issue is pretty clear: Move your Copyright to  
> OSGeo - all of it including trademarks, logos and designs. That is what  
> OSGeo is there for. Get it out of corporate reach, it is none of their  
> business (great analogy, hehe).

> Is their any advantage of keeping the  Copyright under a private property?

Depends. There may be more trust in some private properties than others.
So far as I'm aware, OGC is a private property, you you argue that putting
KML under OGC was a good thing.

OSGeo is also a private property. It is a foundation, managed by an elected
board -- but so are most companies. (OSgeo isn't even, so far as I know,
a registered nonprofit organization at this time.) What makes OSGeo a better
steward for code than organizations which have managed code for years --
or in the cases of some projects, decades?

> What I get back from corporate users of Open Source software these days  
> is the same, they would rather have the Copyright sit with a (real)  
> non-profit like OSGeo than anything else.

How is OSGeo a real non-profit?  

I don't see a strong reason to change the methods of projects that have
successfully managed many years of code contributions. The best people
to make those decisions are people who have successfully managed those
projects.

It's great that OSGeo now feels comfortable managing the copyright of
projects, but it's not clear to me what that actually means. Who is the
person who controls the copyright? Who makes decisions about how it is
managed -- and what happens if someone disagrees with those decisions?

I think that it would be lovely to create an environment where projects
feel that giving copyright over to OSGeo makes their lives -- as project
managers -- easier. I'm not convinced that is currently the case; the lack
of obvious documentation on how projects should give copyright to OSGeo,
and what it means when it happens, seems to me like it creates a void in
which projects might feel uncomfortable about giving copyright to OSGeo,
for fear of what that might mean. Improving that, through solid documentation,
seems a great first step in making projects feel more comfortable with
that process; this is certainly true for me as a contributor to OpenLayers.

Best Regards,
--
Christopher Schmidt
Web Developer
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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Ian Turton
In reply to this post by Arnulf Christl
On Mon, Dec 14, 2009 at 10:58 AM, Arnulf Christl <[hidden email]> wrote:
> What do folks think about software Copyright ownership? OSGeo could suggest
> that project steering committees move the Copyright of their software under
> the hood of OSGeo as GeoTools and others already did. In some cases the
> respective project steering committees might not be able to do such a thing
> because they do not own it in the first place. Is that a good situation?

The GeoTools case was mostly motivated by a realization that the
project management committee had no actual standing in any
jurisdiction. So if for any reason we needed to deal with an external
entity, for example a license breach we would have been unable to do
so as while the PMC held the copyright we didn't exist. The PMC had
collected the copyright so that we could change the license from GPL
to LGPL.

So I'd say that it's probably a good thing on the whole to let
copyright reside with OSGeo as they can provide the legal entity that
was pretty much beyond the ability of the GeoTools team to create as
we were too global, plus the whole point of making the first GeoTools
open source was to avoid having to talk to lawyers at the university.

Ian
--
Ian Turton

Sent from Sydney, Nsw, Australia
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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Frank Warmerdam
In reply to this post by Arnulf Christl
Arnulf Christl wrote:
> What do folks think about software Copyright ownership? OSGeo could
> suggest that project steering committees move the Copyright of their
> software under the hood of OSGeo as GeoTools and others already did. In
> some cases the respective project steering committees might not be able
> to do such a thing because they do not own it in the first place. Is
> that a good situation?

Arnulf,

While I would prefer copyright in OSGeo projects to reside with OSGeo for
simplicity and uniform management, I am concerned that the paperwork to
do this properly would be a barrier to participation.  I am also concerned
that some developers would be concerned about OSGeo having the right to
relicense their software - for instance, possibly moving code from LGPL/GPL
to more permissive open source license - contrary to their wishes when they
contributed the code.

I am also doubtful of our ability to convincingly get all the code of some
projects assigned to OSGeo.  An incomplete job does not seem much better than
not having bothered at all.

So, I'm on the side of "business as usual" which is that it is up to the
project to decide how they want to handle this as long as things are
handled responsibly and the results are under an open source license.

I would note that despite some cloudiness in the MySQL world, it remains
clear that the code remains available to use under the open source license
it was originally published under (GPL I think?).  I think that is the
key guarantee.

Best regards,
--
---------------------------------------+--------------------------------------
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, [hidden email]
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush    | Geospatial Programmer for Rent

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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Barend Gehrels
Frank Warmerdam wrote:
> I am also concerned
> that some developers would be concerned about OSGeo having the right to
> relicense their software - for instance, possibly moving code from
> LGPL/GPL
> to more permissive open source license - contrary to their wishes when
> they
> contributed the code.

The other way round, going to a less permissive license (e.g. from MIT
to LGPL or even GPL) is also a big concern.

Regards, Barend



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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Allan Doyle
In reply to this post by Christopher Schmidt

On Dec 13, 2009, at 7:26 PM, Christopher Schmidt wrote:

[...]

>> My private opinion on this issue is pretty clear: Move your Copyright to  
>> OSGeo - all of it including trademarks, logos and designs. That is what  
>> OSGeo is there for. Get it out of corporate reach, it is none of their  
>> business (great analogy, hehe).
>
>> Is their any advantage of keeping the  Copyright under a private property?
>
> Depends. There may be more trust in some private properties than others.
> So far as I'm aware, OGC is a private property, you you argue that putting
> KML under OGC was a good thing.
>
> OSGeo is also a private property. It is a foundation, managed by an elected
> board -- but so are most companies. (OSgeo isn't even, so far as I know,
> a registered nonprofit organization at this time.) What makes OSGeo a better
> steward for code than organizations which have managed code for years --
> or in the cases of some projects, decades?
>
>> What I get back from corporate users of Open Source software these days  
>> is the same, they would rather have the Copyright sit with a (real)  
>> non-profit like OSGeo than anything else.
>
> How is OSGeo a real non-profit?  
>
> I don't see a strong reason to change the methods of projects that have
> successfully managed many years of code contributions. The best people
> to make those decisions are people who have successfully managed those
> projects.
>
> It's great that OSGeo now feels comfortable managing the copyright of
> projects, but it's not clear to me what that actually means. Who is the
> person who controls the copyright? Who makes decisions about how it is
> managed -- and what happens if someone disagrees with those decisions?
>
> I think that it would be lovely to create an environment where projects
> feel that giving copyright over to OSGeo makes their lives -- as project
> managers -- easier. I'm not convinced that is currently the case; the lack
> of obvious documentation on how projects should give copyright to OSGeo,
> and what it means when it happens, seems to me like it creates a void in
> which projects might feel uncomfortable about giving copyright to OSGeo,
> for fear of what that might mean. Improving that, through solid documentation,
> seems a great first step in making projects feel more comfortable with
> that process; this is certainly true for me as a contributor to OpenLayers.
>

I am not a lawyer. But here's some info I believe is largely correct.

Regarding keeping the copyright in a non-profit -- in the US, a 501(c)(3) has no "owners", there is no stock, and as such, all the assets of the corporation are retained within the corporation under the control of the Board of Directors. The Board of Directors can either (a) disposes of the assets or (b) dissolve the Corporation.

Disposing of the assets must be done in a way that doesn't benefit individual directors, their families, or close associates. (OSGeo has this spelled out in its Certificate of Incorporation in Article X [1])

Dissolving the Corporation must be done as spelled out in either the Bylaws or the Articles of Incorporation (in something known as a "dissolution clause") and essentially involves turning the assets over to another 501(c)(3). (OSGeo has such a clause in Article IX [1])

Disposing of assets could take the form of a sale to a private party, with the proceeds going to the Corporation. But I would think that the Board of Directors would have to document how that advances the non-profit purpose of the Corporation.

Now back to opinion.

In any case, I suspect that there's plenty of room for a Board of Directors to do the wrong thing with any asset (copyrights, property, cash, etc), either intentionally or unintentionally without getting in trouble, simply because no one notices.

If someone disagrees with a decision taken by the Board, I don't think there is any recourse as long as the Board didn't do anything illegal. If someone thinks the Board is about to do something he or she disagrees with, that person would have to try to influence that action by following the rules in the Bylaws [2] to either change the composition of the Board, remove one or more Board members, or get enough support to make the Board think either of those things might happen and thus decide not to do something that would cause the individual to take action. (Assuming, of course that simply appealing to the Board to not take the action didn't work).

This is the stuff of "boardroom dramas" that you read about in the news... with any luck at all, OSGeo noodles along as one big happy family. But it's good to know what the legal parameters are.

        Allan

[1] http://www.osgeo.org/content/foundation/incorporation/osgeo_certificate.pdf
[2] http://www.osgeo.org/content/foundation/incorporation/bylaws.html

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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Allan Doyle
Oops. One more bit about this.

On Dec 14, 2009, at 1:06 PM, Allan Doyle wrote:

>
> On Dec 13, 2009, at 7:26 PM, Christopher Schmidt wrote:
>
> [...]
>
>>> My private opinion on this issue is pretty clear: Move your Copyright to  
>>> OSGeo - all of it including trademarks, logos and designs. That is what  
>>> OSGeo is there for. Get it out of corporate reach, it is none of their  
>>> business (great analogy, hehe).
>>
>>> Is their any advantage of keeping the  Copyright under a private property?
>>
>> Depends. There may be more trust in some private properties than others.
>> So far as I'm aware, OGC is a private property, you you argue that putting
>> KML under OGC was a good thing.
>>
>> OSGeo is also a private property. It is a foundation, managed by an elected
>> board -- but so are most companies. (OSgeo isn't even, so far as I know,
>> a registered nonprofit organization at this time.) What makes OSGeo a better
>> steward for code than organizations which have managed code for years --
>> or in the cases of some projects, decades?

Once again - I'm not a lawyer...

OSGeo is a non-profit by virtue of the way it was incorporated. The IRS ruling that's in progress is not to decide whether or not it's a non-profit. It's to decide whether it's a "public charity" or a "foundation", each being specific legal terms that affect the rules under which it operates. If the organization fails to secure an IRS ruling after a certain amount of time, I think it defaults to "foundation" unless its annual income is under $25,000.

But both forms are 501(c)(3), and in any case, it is bound to operate under the provisions of the certificate of incorporation and the bylaws.

        Allan

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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Luis W. Sevilla
Hi,
    one thing must be taken in account, IMHO. If I'm not wrong OSGeo is
an USA foundation (is registered in the States, and must follow his
laws, of course. As USA maintains a commercial embargo to Cuba [1], it
seems there are a lot of things in technology fields restricted to
American companies (and also foundations).

    If OSGeo will not became a more global (not so USA laws conditioned)
institution, it doesn't seem so good the idea of giving all and every
copyrights to the foundation.

    My two cents
       Luis

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_embargo_against_Cuba
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RE: Software Copyright ownership

Landon Blake
One example of the restrictions Luis is talking about is the prohibition
against distributing certain cryptographic software outside of the US:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_of_cryptography

Don't know that OSGeo would bump into that, but it is one example of a
US specific restriction on organizations involved in software
development.

Landon
Office Phone Number: (209) 946-0268
Cell Phone Number: (209) 992-0658
 
 

-----Original Message-----
From: [hidden email]
[mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Luis W. Sevilla
Sent: Monday, December 14, 2009 10:40 AM
To: OSGeo Discussions
Subject: Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Software Copyright ownership

Hi,
    one thing must be taken in account, IMHO. If I'm not wrong OSGeo is
an USA foundation (is registered in the States, and must follow his
laws, of course. As USA maintains a commercial embargo to Cuba [1], it
seems there are a lot of things in technology fields restricted to
American companies (and also foundations).

    If OSGeo will not became a more global (not so USA laws conditioned)

institution, it doesn't seem so good the idea of giving all and every
copyrights to the foundation.

    My two cents
       Luis

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_embargo_against_Cuba
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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Chris Puttick
In reply to this post by Arnulf Christl
The other issue with assigning code copyrights to a US-based organisation is a simple one. The US has the strongest software patent machine and the most supportive courts (if you pick your state carefully ;) ).

As FOSSGIS applications bite ever harder into the profits of the dominant player(s), the chance of the game being changed to a legal one rather than a sales and marketing one is pretty high; a fight OSGeo couldn't afford to be in.

Chris

----- "Landon Blake" <[hidden email]> wrote:

> One example of the restrictions Luis is talking about is the
> prohibition
> against distributing certain cryptographic software outside of the
> US:
>
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_of_cryptography
>
> Don't know that OSGeo would bump into that, but it is one example of
> a
> US specific restriction on organizations involved in software
> development.
>
> Landon
> Office Phone Number: (209) 946-0268
> Cell Phone Number: (209) 992-0658
>  
>  
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: [hidden email]
> [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Luis W. Sevilla
> Sent: Monday, December 14, 2009 10:40 AM
> To: OSGeo Discussions
> Subject: Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Software Copyright ownership
>
> Hi,
>     one thing must be taken in account, IMHO. If I'm not wrong OSGeo
> is
> an USA foundation (is registered in the States, and must follow his
> laws, of course. As USA maintains a commercial embargo to Cuba [1], it
>
> seems there are a lot of things in technology fields restricted to
> American companies (and also foundations).
>
>     If OSGeo will not became a more global (not so USA laws
> conditioned)
>
> institution, it doesn't seem so good the idea of giving all and every
>
> copyrights to the foundation.
>
>     My two cents
>        Luis
>
> [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_embargo_against_Cuba
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
>
>
> Warning:
> Information provided via electronic media is not guaranteed against
> defects including translation and transmission errors. If the reader
> is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any
> dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is
> strictly prohibited. If you have received this information in error,
> please notify the sender immediately.
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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Luis W. Sevilla
In reply to this post by Allan Doyle
(Sorry if duplicated. it doesn't seem to be arrived first time)

Hi,
    one thing must be taken in account, IMHO. If I'm not wrong OSGeo is
an USA foundation (is registered in the States, and must follow his
laws, of course. As USA maintains a commercial embargo to Cuba [1], it
seems there are a lot of things in technology fields restricted to
American companies (and also foundations).

    If OSGeo will not became a more global (not so USA laws conditioned)
institution, it doesn't seem so good the idea of giving all and every
copyrights to the foundation.

    My two cents
       Luis

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_embargo_against_Cuba

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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Arnulf Christl
In reply to this post by Chris Puttick
Cleaning up an older thread...

>From what I gather from the lists there seems to be no broad opinion in
favor of making projects move their copyright under the hood of OSGeo.

With the recent discussion of potential export restriction enforcement
by incorporated organizations incorporated in USA the the need for a
more global organization seems to be higher. I am frankly at a loss at
where such an organization would be incorporated and what it could look
like but if it existed I would very much like to support it. If anyone
has a great idea what a truly global OSGeo should look like please speak
up.

We should spend some thought on copyright every time we admit and
evaluate projects in incubation. My personal experience shows that
having the copyright of Open Source projects completely under the hood
of a community owned organization is a good thing. Everything else is
messy. The messy bit only shows when things go wrong so lets keep
fingers crossed and as long as nothing happens we'll all be fine.

Best regards,
Arnulf.

On Mon, 2009-12-14 at 21:34 +0000, Chris Puttick wrote:

> The other issue with assigning code copyrights to a US-based
>  organisation is a simple one. The US has the strongest software patent
>  machine and the most supportive courts (if you pick your state
>  carefully ;) ).
>
> As FOSSGIS applications bite ever harder into the profits of the dominant player(s), the chance of the game being changed to a legal one rather than a sales and marketing one is pretty high; a fight OSGeo couldn't afford to be in.
>
> Chris
>
> ----- "Landon Blake" <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> > One example of the restrictions Luis is talking about is the
> > prohibition
> > against distributing certain cryptographic software outside of the
> > US:
> >
> > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_of_cryptography
> >
> > Don't know that OSGeo would bump into that, but it is one example of
> > a
> > US specific restriction on organizations involved in software
> > development.
> >
> > Landon
> > Office Phone Number: (209) 946-0268
> > Cell Phone Number: (209) 992-0658
> >  
> >  
> >
> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: [hidden email]
> > [mailto:[hidden email]] On Behalf Of Luis W. Sevilla
> > Sent: Monday, December 14, 2009 10:40 AM
> > To: OSGeo Discussions
> > Subject: Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Software Copyright ownership
> >
> > Hi,
> >     one thing must be taken in account, IMHO. If I'm not wrong OSGeo
> > is
> > an USA foundation (is registered in the States, and must follow his
> > laws, of course. As USA maintains a commercial embargo to Cuba [1], it
> >
> > seems there are a lot of things in technology fields restricted to
> > American companies (and also foundations).
> >
> >     If OSGeo will not became a more global (not so USA laws
> > conditioned)
> >
> > institution, it doesn't seem so good the idea of giving all and every
> >
> > copyrights to the foundation.
> >
> >     My two cents
> >        Luis
> >
> > [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_embargo_against_Cuba
> > _______________________________________________
> > Discuss mailing list
> > [hidden email]
> > http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
> >
> >
> > Warning:
> > Information provided via electronic media is not guaranteed against
> > defects including translation and transmission errors. If the reader
> > is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any
> > dissemination, distribution or copying of this communication is
> > strictly prohibited. If you have received this information in error,
> > please notify the sender immediately.
> > _______________________________________________
> > Discuss mailing list
> > [hidden email]
> > http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
>
>
> ------
> Files attached to this email may be in ISO 26300 format (OASIS Open Document Format). If you have difficulty opening them, please visit http://iso26300.info for more information.
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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Frank Warmerdam
Arnulf Christl (aka Seven) wrote:

> Cleaning up an older thread...
>
>>From what I gather from the lists there seems to be no broad opinion in
> favor of making projects move their copyright under the hood of OSGeo.
>
> With the recent discussion of potential export restriction enforcement
> by incorporated organizations incorporated in USA the the need for a
> more global organization seems to be higher. I am frankly at a loss at
> where such an organization would be incorporated and what it could look
> like but if it existed I would very much like to support it. If anyone
> has a great idea what a truly global OSGeo should look like please speak
> up.
>
> We should spend some thought on copyright every time we admit and
> evaluate projects in incubation. My personal experience shows that
> having the copyright of Open Source projects completely under the hood
> of a community owned organization is a good thing. Everything else is
> messy. The messy bit only shows when things go wrong so lets keep
> fingers crossed and as long as nothing happens we'll all be fine.

Arnulf,

I'm not sure I see the connection between the "who holds copyright"
issue, and the "US export controls" issue.  To me, centralized copyright
is primarily helpful when relicensing, or ensuring we have the right to
pursue legal action against someone using one of our projects in a fashion
that is contrary to the license.

I haven't yet come to any conclusions what to do about the US export control
problem.  One thing that was expressed in the past in a discussion of this
problem (perhaps on foundations list) is that many US export controls are a
reflection of international convenants on the export of weapons and possibly
weapons related technologies that have also been signed by most other major
nations.  As such, the US just seems to have more organized enforcement, and
we might at some point expect some similar enforcement in other nations.
I'm not sure exactly how true this is - I suspect there is a lot of leeway
in how things are classified, and enforced.

Best regards,
--
---------------------------------------+--------------------------------------
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, [hidden email]
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush    | Geospatial Programmer for Rent

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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Brian Russo
Can you give an example of some osgeo software that is a concern for
US export controls?

I'm having trouble thinking of any, since encryption isn't really a
big factor in most GIS software. Even if it is a component of the
software, as long as those encryption components reside outside of it
in openssl or similar - while it is an inconvenience - it can be
handled the same way this matter has been for years.
Distribute/produce the software inside the US without the encryption -
and then foreigners can obtain openssl from outside the US.. compile
the software, etc.

There are probably some GIS software packages that would fall under
the EAR, but since they meet the GSN requirements for being 'generally
available to the public', they are exempted 15 CFR §734.7(b). Likewise
even if there was a non-encryption product that somewhere fell under
ITAR, it is also exempt 22 CFR §125.1(a) since open source software is
in what ITAR considers accessibility in the public domain.

There's still of course the matter of places like North Korea/other
embargoed nations, but unless you're actively initiating such specific
transfers then there's no concern since the EAR language that I'm
aware of refers to 'downloading or causing the downloading...'.

regards,
 - bri

On Sun, Feb 14, 2010 at 7:33 AM, Frank Warmerdam <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Arnulf Christl (aka Seven) wrote:
>>
>> Cleaning up an older thread...
>>>
>>> From what I gather from the lists there seems to be no broad opinion in
>>
>> favor of making projects move their copyright under the hood of OSGeo.
>> With the recent discussion of potential export restriction enforcement
>> by incorporated organizations incorporated in USA the the need for a
>> more global organization seems to be higher. I am frankly at a loss at
>> where such an organization would be incorporated and what it could look
>> like but if it existed I would very much like to support it. If anyone
>> has a great idea what a truly global OSGeo should look like please speak
>> up.
>> We should spend some thought on copyright every time we admit and
>> evaluate projects in incubation. My personal experience shows that
>> having the copyright of Open Source projects completely under the hood
>> of a community owned organization is a good thing. Everything else is
>> messy. The messy bit only shows when things go wrong so lets keep
>> fingers crossed and as long as nothing happens we'll all be fine.
>
> Arnulf,
>
> I'm not sure I see the connection between the "who holds copyright"
> issue, and the "US export controls" issue.  To me, centralized copyright
> is primarily helpful when relicensing, or ensuring we have the right to
> pursue legal action against someone using one of our projects in a fashion
> that is contrary to the license.
>
> I haven't yet come to any conclusions what to do about the US export control
> problem.  One thing that was expressed in the past in a discussion of this
> problem (perhaps on foundations list) is that many US export controls are a
> reflection of international convenants on the export of weapons and possibly
> weapons related technologies that have also been signed by most other major
> nations.  As such, the US just seems to have more organized enforcement, and
> we might at some point expect some similar enforcement in other nations.
> I'm not sure exactly how true this is - I suspect there is a lot of leeway
> in how things are classified, and enforced.
>
> Best regards,
> --
> ---------------------------------------+--------------------------------------
> I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam,
> [hidden email]
> light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
> and watch the world go round - Rush    | Geospatial Programmer for Rent
>
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> [hidden email]
> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
>
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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Ravi Kumar
In reply to this post by Arnulf Christl
While discussing this with Free Software Foundation of India, this topic came up, and I could not explain them the position of software under incubation by OSGeo.
May I have a pointer or thread where the status of software under incubation is dealt, indicating,
1. Copy-Left
2. Type of licensing, GNU-GPL, BSD etc
Ravi Kumar

--- On Sun, 14/2/10, Arnulf Christl (aka Seven) <[hidden email]> wrote:

> From: Arnulf Christl (aka Seven) <[hidden email]>
> Subject: Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Software Copyright ownership
> To: "OSGeo Discussions" <[hidden email]>
> Date: Sunday, 14 February, 2010, 12:14 PM
> Cleaning up an older thread...
>
> >From what I gather from the lists there seems to be no
> broad opinion in
> favor of making projects move their copyright under the
> hood of OSGeo.
>
> With the recent discussion of potential export restriction
> enforcement
> by incorporated organizations incorporated in USA the the
> need for a
> more global organization seems to be higher. I am frankly
> at a loss at
> where such an organization would be incorporated and what
> it could look
> like but if it existed I would very much like to support
> it. If anyone
> has a great idea what a truly global OSGeo should look like
> please speak
> up.
>
> We should spend some thought on copyright every time we
> admit and
> evaluate projects in incubation. My personal experience
> shows that
> having the copyright of Open Source projects completely
> under the hood
> of a community owned organization is a good thing.
> Everything else is
> messy. The messy bit only shows when things go wrong so
> lets keep
> fingers crossed and as long as nothing happens we'll all be
> fine.
>
> Best regards,
> Arnulf.
>
> On Mon, 2009-12-14 at 21:34 +0000, Chris Puttick wrote:
> > The other issue with assigning code copyrights to a
> US-based
> >  organisation is a simple one. The US has the
> strongest software patent
> >  machine and the most supportive courts (if you
> pick your state
> >  carefully ;) ).
> >
> > As FOSSGIS applications bite ever harder into the
> profits of the dominant player(s), the chance of the game
> being changed to a legal one rather than a sales and
> marketing one is pretty high; a fight OSGeo couldn't afford
> to be in.
> >
> > Chris
> >
> > ----- "Landon Blake" <[hidden email]>
> wrote:
> >
> > > One example of the restrictions Luis is talking
> about is the
> > > prohibition
> > > against distributing certain cryptographic
> software outside of the
> > > US:
> > >
> > > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Export_of_cryptography
> > >
> > > Don't know that OSGeo would bump into that, but
> it is one example of
> > > a
> > > US specific restriction on organizations involved
> in software
> > > development.
> > >
> > > Landon
> > > Office Phone Number: (209) 946-0268
> > > Cell Phone Number: (209) 992-0658
> > > 
> > > 
> > >
> > > -----Original Message-----
> > > From: [hidden email]
> > > [mailto:[hidden email]]
> On Behalf Of Luis W. Sevilla
> > > Sent: Monday, December 14, 2009 10:40 AM
> > > To: OSGeo Discussions
> > > Subject: Re: [OSGeo-Discuss] Software Copyright
> ownership
> > >
> > > Hi,
> > >     one thing must be taken
> in account, IMHO. If I'm not wrong OSGeo
> > > is
> > > an USA foundation (is registered in the States,
> and must follow his
> > > laws, of course. As USA maintains a commercial
> embargo to Cuba [1], it
> > >
> > > seems there are a lot of things in technology
> fields restricted to
> > > American companies (and also foundations).
> > >
> > >     If OSGeo will not became
> a more global (not so USA laws
> > > conditioned)
> > >
> > > institution, it doesn't seem so good the idea of
> giving all and every
> > >
> > > copyrights to the foundation.
> > >
> > >     My two cents
> > >        Luis
> > >
> > > [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_embargo_against_Cuba
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > Discuss mailing list
> > > [hidden email]
> > > http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
> > >
> > >
> > > Warning:
> > > Information provided via electronic media is not
> guaranteed against
> > > defects including translation and transmission
> errors. If the reader
> > > is not the intended recipient, you are hereby
> notified that any
> > > dissemination, distribution or copying of this
> communication is
> > > strictly prohibited. If you have received this
> information in error,
> > > please notify the sender immediately.
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > Discuss mailing list
> > > [hidden email]
> > > http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
> >
> >
> > ------
> > Files attached to this email may be in ISO 26300
> format (OASIS Open Document Format). If you have difficulty
> opening them, please visit http://iso26300.info for more
> information.
> >
> > _______________________________________________
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> > http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
>
>
>
> --
> http://arnulf.us
> Exploring Space, Time and Mind
>
> _______________________________________________
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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Frank Warmerdam
Ravi wrote:
> While discussing this with Free Software Foundation of India, this topic
> came up, and I could not explain them the position of software under
> incubation by OSGeo. May I have a pointer or thread where the status of
> software under incubation is dealt, indicating,
 > 1. Copy-Left
 > 2. Type of licensing, GNU-GPL, BSD etc

Ravi,

I wasn't able to find a specific incubation document that addresses, it,
but it is required that projects release their code under an open source
license - in particular one approved (or clearly essentially identical to)
by OSI (http://www.opensource.org).  That means that GPL, LGPL, BSD, and
quite a number of other open source licenses are considered acceptable.

We also do a code provenance review to try and ensure that the existing
code base of the project is properly contributed. This is described at:

   http://www.osgeo.org/incubator/process/codereview.html

Current policy is that projects may choose to leave copyright with the
original contributors, some outside body or OSGeo.

Best regards,
--
---------------------------------------+--------------------------------------
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, [hidden email]
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush    | Geospatial Programmer for Rent

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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Jorge Sanz (OSGeo)
In reply to this post by Brian Russo
On 14 February 2010 22:44, Brian Russo <[hidden email]> wrote:
> Can you give an example of some osgeo software that is a concern for
> US export controls?
>

Well this topic is under discussion on the board (AFAIK) but, the wiki
page says:

http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/US_Export_Restrictions

"
All of our products are developed via online collaboration in public
forums and distributed from distributed servers some within the
territory of the United States of America. Therefore, U.S. export laws
and regulations apply to our distributions and remain in force as
products and technology are re-exported to different parties and
places around the world
"

As the wiki page states, it's more or less the same policy used by the
Apache Foundation.

> I'm having trouble thinking of any, since encryption isn't really a
> big factor in most GIS software. Even if it is a component of the
> software, as long as those encryption components reside outside of it
> in openssl or similar - while it is an inconvenience - it can be
> handled the same way this matter has been for years.
> Distribute/produce the software inside the US without the encryption -
> and then foreigners can obtain openssl from outside the US.. compile
> the software, etc.
>
> There are probably some GIS software packages that would fall under
> the EAR, but since they meet the GSN requirements for being 'generally
> available to the public', they are exempted 15 CFR §734.7(b). Likewise
> even if there was a non-encryption product that somewhere fell under
> ITAR, it is also exempt 22 CFR §125.1(a) since open source software is
> in what ITAR considers accessibility in the public domain.
>
> There's still of course the matter of places like North Korea/other
> embargoed nations, but unless you're actively initiating such specific
> transfers then there's no concern since the EAR language that I'm
> aware of refers to 'downloading or causing the downloading...'.
>

I don't know what "EAR" means on this context (not talking about EJBs,
right?) but as it seems that your knowledge on this field is far
better than mine, can you confirm if is or not a law infringement of
the OSGeo Foundation to let Cuban or North Korean people to download
any product from OSGeo stack*? The wiki text I've copied says the
contrary, isn't it?

* from its own servers like GDAL or hosted outside like Geonetwor,
Geoserver, etc.

Best
--
Jorge Gaspar Sanz Salinas
Ingeniero en Geodesia y Cartografía
http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Jorge_Sanz
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Re: Software Copyright ownership

Brian Russo
EAR is the Export Administration Regulations, maintained by the Bureau
of Industry & Security within the US Department of Commerce.

Well I'm no lawyer so I cannot give legal advice nor confirm on this
matter. I do know that 740.13(e)(6) says that posting encryption
source code and object code online doesn't invoke the "know your
customer" obligations nor constitute knowledge of export, etc. A
simple solution may be to just mirror what Kerberos did and put up a
bunch of disclaimers - http://web.mit.edu/Kerberos/dist/index.html

Anecdotally, the fact that Mozilla got a 'no-violation' letter when
it's known that Firefox has been exported to Iran via Mozilla's
servers is interesting (though not a legal precedent).

I suggest contacting EFF or a similar group and asking their lawyers.

 - bri

On Mon, Feb 15, 2010 at 2:52 AM, Jorge Gaspar Sanz Salinas
<[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 14 February 2010 22:44, Brian Russo <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> I'm having trouble thinking of any, since encryption isn't really a
>> big factor in most GIS software. Even if it is a component of the
>> software, as long as those encryption components reside outside of it
>> in openssl or similar - while it is an inconvenience - it can be
>> handled the same way this matter has been for years.
>> Distribute/produce the software inside the US without the encryption -
>> and then foreigners can obtain openssl from outside the US.. compile
>> the software, etc.
>>
>> There are probably some GIS software packages that would fall under
>> the EAR, but since they meet the GSN requirements for being 'generally
>> available to the public', they are exempted 15 CFR §734.7(b). Likewise
>> even if there was a non-encryption product that somewhere fell under
>> ITAR, it is also exempt 22 CFR §125.1(a) since open source software is
>> in what ITAR considers accessibility in the public domain.
>>
>> There's still of course the matter of places like North Korea/other
>> embargoed nations, but unless you're actively initiating such specific
>> transfers then there's no concern since the EAR language that I'm
>> aware of refers to 'downloading or causing the downloading...'.
>>
>
> I don't know what "EAR" means on this context (not talking about EJBs,
> right?) but as it seems that your knowledge on this field is far
> better than mine, can you confirm if is or not a law infringement of
> the OSGeo Foundation to let Cuban or North Korean people to download
> any product from OSGeo stack*? The wiki text I've copied says the
> contrary, isn't it?
>
> * from its own servers like GDAL or hosted outside like Geonetwor,
> Geoserver, etc.

I can't confirm anything since I'm not a lawyer in this field, I just
have some familiarity with it having filled out the paperwork to
export high-tech items previously. If OSGeo does not have an attorney,
probably EFF could be consulted on the matter freely as I'm sure they
have experts on this topic. There are also some very knowledgeable
people on this matter in the Debian Project and probably other OS
projects.

However the law itself is surprisingly clear and is worth reading.

EAR refers to the Export Administration Regulations, noted in that
wiki you linked. They are regulated by the BIS which is part of the
Department of Commerce. They regulate the majority of export item. The
Department of State also regulates 'defense articles' via ITAR, but
since GIS software would most certainly be considered a 'dual purpose'
item, as long as it does not include encryption I'd be genuinely
shocked if it fell under ITAR. Even if it does, it being open source
really helps it.

As I mentioned previously, open source software meets the General
Software Note exemption under 15 CFR §734.7(b). I urge you to read the
language, but basically it says that if the software is "generally
available", via free or "reproduction cost" licensing, or like in a
library, or is used in a university, etc; then exporting it is rather
moot since any foreign national could simply walk in and grab a copy
if they wanted anyway. Open source software easily meets this
definition.

Likewise under ITAR, there is an exemption for non-encryption open
source software considered to be in the public domain (in the sense of
access, not licensing) under 22 CFR §125.1(a)

For encryption open source products, no license is required from BIS,
however you have to make a TSU notification -
http://www.bis.doc.gov/encryption/pubavailencsourcecodenofify.html

Embargoed destinations and denied persons/entities are a no-go
regardless of any exemptions. However simply placing the source
code/object code on a website does not constitute export, knowledge of
export, nor does it

>
> Best
> --
> Jorge Gaspar Sanz Salinas
> Ingeniero en Geodesia y Cartografía
> http://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Jorge_Sanz
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> [hidden email]
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>
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