Subject: Re: Clarification of GPL
From: Ian Lance Taylor <>
Date: 16 Dec 2003 22:19:36 -0500

Ben Reser <> writes:

> The problem here is exactly that.  Assignment is a double edged
> sword.  Assignment makes it easier for one individual to litigate
> against people who violate the license (which means violating the
> copyright).  But it also permits the assignee to change the license for future
> releases in any manner which they please.  Including proprietary
> licenses that perhaps the majority of contributors may not be inclined
> to agree to.

The copyright assignment forms used by the FSF avoid this problem.
The copyright assignment form itself specifies that the FSF is
required to follow certain restrictions on the assigned code.

A typical example is:

       The Foundation promises that all distribution of the Work, or of any
    work "based on the Work", that takes place under the control of the
    Foundation or its assignees, shall be on terms that explicitly and
    perpetually permit anyone possessing a copy of the work to which the terms
    apply, and possessing accurate notice of these terms, to redistribute
    copies of the work to anyone on the same terms.  These terms shall not
    restrict which members of the public copies may be distributed to.  These
    terms shall not require a member of the public to pay any royalty to the
    Foundation or to anyone else for any permitted use of the work they apply
    to, or to communicate with the Foundation or its agents in any way either
    when redistribution is performed or on any other occasion.

       The Foundation promises that any program "based on the Work" offered
    to the public by the Foundation or its assignees shall be offered in the
    form of machine-readable source code, in addition to any other forms of the
    Foundation's choosing.  However, the Foundation is free to choose at its
    convenience the media of distribution for machine-readable source code.

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