Subject: Re: how much right do I have on my project, if there are patches by others?
From: Rick Moen <>
Date: Sun, 8 Jul 2007 21:52:26 -0700

Quoting Matthew Flaschen (

> I guess this is the part I don't understand.  By analogy, if you make a
> film adaptation of Lord of the Rings, it's a derivative work of the
> book, and there are two authors involved.  But I don't see how it could
> be a multi-author work, since Tolkien is dead and thus there couldn't be
> any collaboration.

Er, there's nothing about multi-author works that necessitates collaboration.

The 2004 recording of Rhapsody in Blue and An American in Paris, where
Michael Tilson Thomas and the Columbia Jazz Band play the
small-orchestra part along with George Gershwin's 1925 reproducing-piano
roll, most assuredly was _not_ collaborative -- unless Tilson Thomas has
developed previously unknown acumen with Ouija Boards.  And yet it
provably had multiple creators.

> Similarly, a fork that the original author ignores would seem to be just
> as lacking in collaboration, and thus not a multi-author work.

Again, I deny your premise about "collaboration".  I have no idea where
you got that.

> No.  My understanding is that joint and collective works are legally
> created (by definition).  But derivative works are not necessarily
> legal.

Nowhere did I say that derivative works are necessarily legal, so I'm
utterly unclear on what you're driving at.

> So my point was that an infringing derivative work couldn't be
> joint or collective (/because/ that would be a conflict)

First, I have not a clue why you are suddenly talking about
"_infringing_ derivative works" in this context.  (I sure hope that, by
"infringing", you mean infringing copyright law.)  A copyright owner who
heard of such a work would deal with it simply by demanding that the
unauthorised party cease and desist, and if necessary sue to enjoin.

The question of whether it's joint or collective is pretty silly because, 
rather more to the point, it's pretty much going to get killed off, upon
being noticed.

I realise computerists tend to have a rabid fixation with odd edge cases,
but c'mon, now.