Subject: Re: what happened to the lm75(?) driver?
To: None <email@example.com>
From: Chuck McManis <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: 09/13/1999 15:48:42
"Whoa!", to quote Neo from The Matrix,is all I can say to Charles
Hannum's response to Greg Wood's copyright thread.
Obligatory Disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer. I have negotiated a number of
software contracts (assignments of rights to copy, aka copyrights) and
have discussed this issue at some length with competent counsel. This
information is provided as information only, always consult with an
attorney prior to entering into any contract.
[And you thought I couldn't talk lawyerly :-) ]
It is clear that there are some misconceptions here about copy rights
and they are interfering with progress. Allow me to try to put things
into perspective so that progress might be made and cases like Greg's
may be avoided in the future.
The absolutely KEY point here is that there are TWO copyrights being
discussed. These are:
* The NetBSD Foundation Inc (TNFi)'s copyright on the "collection"
known as NetBSD.
* The author's (Greg Wood in this case) copyright on a piece of
code he wrote.
The second KEY point is that "legal mumbo jumbo" is about conveying
INTENT. Unless I am greatly mistaken, the INTENT of TNFi is to control
the copying and distribution of their collection in order to preserve
the quality of the collection and thus the "value" of the name NetBSD.
Or perhaps more germane, the intent is NOT to prevent commercial gain
from the use of their owned work.
There is a good physical analog here that has been used successfully
in the courts, magazines. In the case law surrounding the publication
of magazines there are many cases of copyright dispute and settlement,
but one thing is clear, there are two distinct copyrights. There is a
copyright on the Magazine (a collection copyright) and there are
copyrights on the articles themselves (an individual copyright). Most
magazines have a standard "assignment" contract for free lance authors
which describes exactly which rights the magazine requires in order to
accept the contribution, and what compenstation will be given to the
TNFi has a collection copyright that they impose on NetBSD which is
their "collective work."
The author has a copyright that the author imposes on anyone who might
wish to include the author's work in a collection.
Now lets get down to the heart of the matter
The collection copyright holder, may choose to accept or decline
contributions from authors. As a basis for acceptance, the collection
copyright holder negotiates a copy right with the author. But it is
important to note that the negotiation here is between the collection
copyright holder (TNFi) and the author (Greg) ONLY, and not between
the collection copyright holder and end users of the collection.
(effectively TFNi's customers).
Clauses in the contributor's copyright that are imposed on the
customer of the collection copyright holder can be considered to be
For example, if the author said, "By bundling this work with your
stuff you agree force anyone who uses this collection to give the
This is a clause that carries through from the author, through the
collection author, to the collection author's customers. They way this
is traditionally expressed in non "free" software is as follows:
"LICENSEE agrees to pay LICENSOR $X for each copy of The
Software that is sold or otherwised distributed to a
The short name is "royalties." It is pretty clear that TNFi is trying to
avoid any carry throughs.
An example of a non-carry through clause might be:
"By bundling this work with your collection you agree to inform
everyone to whom you distribute the collection that a component
included in the collection was authored by John Doe."
This is not a carry through. It does impose a constraint on the
collection author to notify their customers of authorship, it does NOT
require that the customers who use to collection to notify THEIR end
users of the authorship.
Finally, lets solve the dispute between TNFi and Greg Woods.
Now, I'm going to put some words in peoples mouths and that is fraught
with danger so if I screw up let me know. (as if anyone wouldn't :-)
- The INTENT of TNFi is to insure that anyone who uses NetBSD in their
product (commercial or free) clearly acknowledge that use to their
- The INTENT of Greg Woods is to insure that anyone who gets a copy of
NetBSD to use for development, or to install on their system, be
informed that he has made a contribution to the product they
To achieve both of these goals we need write two copyrights, the
collection copy right says (unchanged from current NetBSD):
3. All advertising materials mentioning features or use of this
software must display the following acknowledgement:
"This product included software developed by the NetBSD
foundation, Inc and its contributors. For a list of
contributors see http://www.netbsd.org/..."
And in Greg's copyright he can write (proposed):
3. Anyone incorporating this software directly into their
product must provide the following acknowledgement
in the documentation that is distributed with that
"Portions of this software were contributed by Greg Woods"
The important legal bit here is the word "directly". It is a "direct"
inclusion for TNFi to put Greg's driver into the source tree, therefore
they are bound by his clause, it is an "indirect" inclusion for a
third party to compile NetBSD and install it on their platform. They
are therefore not bound by this term.
So if Greg can re-cast his copyright so that it only burdens people
who directly include his software, and those burdens are not onerous
to TNFi, can we move ahead and get back to coding?