Subject: Re: Who holds the copyright? (was Re: The merger: a user's perspective)
From: Stan Shebs <shebs@cygnus.com>
Date: 16 Nov 1999 12:33:23 -0800

bkuhn@ebb.org (Bradley M. Kuhn) writes:

> Stan Shebs wrote:
> > 
> > kragen@pobox.com (Kragen Sitaker) writes:
> 
> > Also, what would the buyer get?  The source code is not owned by the
> > company,
> 
> You are correct, the gcc core copyright is held by the FSF, not either
> company.  However, IIRC, there are a number of free software products for
> which Cygnus and/or Red Hat holds the copyright on.  Of course, the GPL
> can't be "taken back" and the versions we have would remain free, but future
> versions from the company (what's the new name, anyway?) would not be free
> if a hostile take-over occurred by a proprietary software company.

Ah, very good point, I should have remembered about those.  In the
worst case, you'd end up with something like the Ghostcript situation,
where free versions lag proprietary, but even that presumes that the
company can develop faster and better than the community.  Otherwise,
you might end up with a fork, as the free versions evolve beyond the
proprietary version, possibly even becoming favored and supplanting
the proprietary version.

So a better way to phrase the unattractiveness for hostile takeover is
to say that the code is only partly controlled by Red Hat/Cygnus.  In
the accountants' calculation, this will greatly reduce the value of
the "asset", and make a takeover much less financially attractive.

								Stan