Subject: Re: What should Sun do?
From: "Marshall W. Van Alstyne" <marshall@MIT.EDU>
Date: Fri, 04 Feb 2005 09:54:10 -0500

At 05:07 AM 2/3/2005, Norbert Bollow wrote:
>Stephen J. Turnbull <> wrote:
> > Now that's a scary thought.  Suppose the FSF owned Linux, and SCO
> > _won_.  FSF goes bankrupt because it can't pay the license fee, SCO
> > gets its assets, _including all FSF-owned copyrights_.
> >
> > What good do the FSF covenants of incorporation and the assignment
> > papers we've signed do in that case, anybody know?
>The assignment papers are a contract which imposes onto the FSF
>obligations which are essentially equivalent to keeping the software
>publicly available as Free Software.
>Hence even if it should happen that the FSF is sued into bankruptcy,
>and the software copyrights which are currently held by the FSF are
>"inherited" by a legal successor-of-interest who isn't bound by the
>FSF's covenants of incorporation, this successor-of-interest cannot
>make use of the copyrights without honoring the obligations of the
>assignment contract.

Question: but suppose they don't intend to *use* the copyrights? Under a 
different scenario, what might happen if the owner of a competing product 
sued (a hypothetical Microsoft) and won ownership? Is it possible for them 
to bury code?  A software equivalent of the final scene from "Raiders of 
the Lost Ark" comes to mind.

I'm guessing that the redistribution properties of say GPL would protect 
access but that development momentum would be lost if the new owner 
intended to do damage.