[Nagiosplug-devel] Antwort: Antwort: Contributing patches and retaining copyright

Olivier 'Babar' Raginel nagios at babar.us
Wed May 6 18:00:56 CEST 2009

On Wed, May 06, 2009 at 04:23:30PM +0200, Andreas Ericsson wrote:
> Not necessarily. In a court of law, copyright holders must show that 
> their contribution is not insignificant. A one-line fix from me to 
> net-snmp gives me absolutely zero right to decide over the license of 
> the project. Also, if a large enough majority of the contributors (and 
> contributors here is counted by number of contributed lines of code), 
> the license can be changed without even asking the remaining 
> programmers, so long as they didn't write a significant part of the 
> project as a whole.

IANAL, so I'll refrain from commenting on this. I'm just like Sasha, 
meaning I couldn't contribute back some code because the company I wrote 
it for owned the copyright.

Anyway, Andreas, are you sure about that?
This seems pretty hard to enforce to me.
Let's take a concrete example: Nagios::Plugins. Afaik, Gavin Carr wrote 
the first shot at this. It's been extended a lot since then. What if, 
over time, someone refactors that up to a point that not a single line 
of what Gavin wrote is left in the source. If I did that re-factoring, 
would I then be able to claim copyright? Would the copyright be shared 
between Gavin, myself, and the others who made substantial contributions 
to that piece of code?
May I also rip Gavin's name out of N::P then?

And no, I'm not planning to re-write N::P, it's perfectly fine. This is 
just intended as an example, as I've been wondering this for quite some 
time, and could never find a clear statement about this.
GPL mentions something about every contributor should be credited, but I 
couldn't find anything about copyrights and what it actually means.

But once again, IANAL, I'm only very interested and eager to learn how 
this licensing model can work.


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