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Ridiculous Assertion: Righthaven Ruling Threatens Open Source

from the let's-debunk-this-now dept

With the recent Righthaven ruling effectively declaring Righthaven's legal strategy a sham, someone going by the somewhat uncreative name "Plessy Ferguson" sent us the following essay claiming that the ruling is a disaster for open source development. I'll post the full essay here, and then explain why it's wrong:
"While many supporters of net freedom continue to celebrate the recent decision penalizing the Rightshaven lawsuit mill, open source advocates are beginning to understand the brutal implications for enforcing licensing terms. Simply put, open source projects without CLAs (Contributor License Agreements) will not be able to sue anyone for breaking the license agreement. Smaller, less-professional projects will have to choose between accepting casual contributions and enforcing the license.


The limit threatens much of the casual work done by corporate partners. While it's usually relatively easy for small, independent developers to sign a contract giving away all rights to the code, it's another matter for a corporate developer to get permission from the legal department. If the company is paying for the development-- something that is common with many projects supported by companies-- the company owns the code and the company needs to sign the document. This will be too much red tape for many developers.


The interpretation also dramatically threatens an important right built into many open source licenses, the right to fork the code. In the past, anyone could take a project protected by the Gnu Public License and start adding their own enhancements. Many projects have forked over time when developers have disagreements over the best path.


The trouble is that the new team creating the fork won't have CLAs governing the old code making it impossible for them to enforce the license. Any forked project won't be able to enforce all of the rights, a crucial issue because the judge is requiring plaintiffs to be able to control the copyright completely before suing.


The matter also threatens some CLAs that transfered an exclusive reproduction right to any project. Some CLAs don't transfer much more than the right to sue, something the court said couldn't be transfered. If projects don't renegotiate these agreements with all contributors, they'll be unable to enforce their license.


While all of these limitations can be overcome with more legal paperwork, they still threaten the more casual open source projects. Teams will need buildmasters, coders, architects and lawyers if they want to create anything lasting. Unfortunately, the strength of open source licenses are directly related to the strength of copyright."
I can't decide if this is the work of someone who's just trying to drum up bogus support for Righthaven, or who simply doesn't understand the Righthaven ruling at all. Nothing in the Righthaven ruling supports what's written above. Whoever wrote it appears to be trying to paint a picture saying that the Righthaven ruling makes it more difficult to transfer copyright. That's not true. All the Righthaven ruling said was that you can't transfer solely the right to sue over copyright. That's it. That has nothing to do with open source development, as I don't know of anyone in the open source world who is trying to just transfer the right to sue, while retaining the actual Section 106 rights under copyright.

The idea that forked projects won't be able to enforce their license rights is, again, totally unrelated to the ruling. Forked projects will have a license that allows them to enforce their rights, because of the nature of the open source license they're using, which grants such rights. Pretending otherwise is pure folly. Honestly, the more I read this piece, the more I think it's someone who's trying to spread pro-Righthaven FUD.


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  1.  
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    Designerfx (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 11:40am

    check the commenter IP address of the trollpost

    If it comes from Redmond or Florian's known IP addresses, don't be surprised.

     

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  2.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 11:48am

    Open Source is Copyright law pure and simple

    Anyone who contributes a recognizable and significant amount of code to an open source project has a copyright on the code they contributed, and can sue someone who distributes the code without a proper license.

    As with ANY copyright work, if you don't have a license, then you have no right to distribute or create derivative works.

    The open source license is designed to make it easy to have a license grant from the copyright owner(s). All you need to do is abide by the license. Just like with any other copyright license.

    The irony is that the typical infringer of a copyright work under an open source license is a business. They have been sued numerous times, and typically settle under very reasonable terms.

    So how exactly does RightHaven have anything to do with this?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 11:54am

    As Raplh says...

    Oh boy sleep! That's where I'm a lawyer!

     

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    DannyB (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 11:55am

    The trouble is that the new team creating the fork won't have CLAs governing the old code making it impossible for them to enforce the license. Any forked project won't be able to enforce all of the rights, a crucial issue because the judge is requiring plaintiffs to be able to control the copyright completely before suing.

    They will be able to enforce their rights on any new code that they write.

    Example: Make a fork of, say, Linux. You don't own any copyright on the existing code. Call your fork Foobarix. Contribute some new code to Forbarix. Now if Foobarix is so good that Jane uses it in a way that does not comply with the open source license you granted them, then you certainly can enforce your rights on the new code that makes Foobarix what it is. If your new code isn't so great, then Jane might just get a different Linux and infringe that. In this case, you have no rights to enforce since none of YOUR code copyrights were infringed. But you can bet that some other Linux author's code copyright was infringed. There are thousands of authors. Want to risk that at least one of them won't enforce their rights against the infringer?

     

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  5.  
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    Michael Leon, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 11:58am

    PR Counter attack

    I have been seeing a lot of these pro-Righthaven spins and fabrications popping up of late.

    This is another.

     

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  6.  
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    Steven (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:03pm

    Re:

    That's not quite right. Make a fork of Linux (actually just download Linux) and you have been granted distribution, reproduction, and possibly other rights that are lined out in copyright law.

    That makes me wonder... If somebody is infringing on the Linux kernel copyright (as an example) would anybody who has downloaded the kernel source code have standing to sue? Certainly anybody with a fork would have standing. In theory it would seem that violating the GPL (as an example) would open you up to suit from just about anybody.

    Any actual lawyers care to rip that logic apart?

     

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    Brendan (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:04pm

    Undermining Open Source?

    My first thought was that this was a shot across the bow against corporate use of open source solutions, attempting to introduce risk and uncertainty where there is none.

    It seems to heavily attack corporate contributions to open source projects, which to me today largely is an attack on Android and its vendor customizations.

    It could also be referring to webserver architecture and Linux at large, but I suspect the FUD is more pointed.

     

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  8.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:05pm

    Bullshit begets bullshit.

    Righthaven's circling the bowl, and now their defenders seem to be dropping in right behind them.

    Can't we just flush all of these dumbasses already?

     

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  9.  
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    Richard (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:07pm

    Re:

    You are right of course, however, contributors to large open source projects usually assign their rights to a cover organisation such as FSF.

    The reason why the Rightshaven case is irrelevant is that, given the nature of the GPL these authors have no problem assigning the whole copyright over to FSF - unlike Stephens Media, which tried to keep all but the right to sue.

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Open Source is Copyright law pure and simple

    This is pretty much right. The essay mistakenly states that the judges in the Righthaven rulings require you to have "all" the rights to bring a suit. That's not true; they just say you can't have *only* a "right to sue" untethered to any other substantive right.

    It does raise interesting questions about who owns copyright interests in open source projects (mainly whether contributors are joint copyright owners or not), but that's not relevant to Righthaven, and you wouldn't need an assignment from every contributor to bring a suit (although a defendant could potentially get a license from *one* contributor as a complete defense, if all contributors are deemed joint authors).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re:

    Simply downloading Linux doesn't give you any copyright rights. I'm not sure where you got that notion.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:21pm

    Re: Undermining Open Source?

    I got the opposite impression. Namely, that it says there's little risk to using open source code, even outside the license terms, because no one can enforce their rights in the code anyway.

     

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    sheenyglass (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:29pm

    Re: Re:

    Lawyer here. Try not to say lawyer three times in front of a mirror with the lights off, because we are really boring and hard to get rid of. Also I don't specialize in software licensing, so grain of salt etc.

    In answer to your question, maybe. Just because you are licensed to do x, y or z doesn't mean you have standing to sue. Especially becasue what we are talking about isn't an infringement of those rights, but an infringement of share-alike provisions or the source availability provisions. For this reason the FSF generally wants people to assign copyright to them so they can enforce the GPL. (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/why-assign.html)

     

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    Steven (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:31pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Basically the GPL grants me distribution rights. It doesn't seem to require me to make modifications. From the GPL:

    You may convey verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice; keep intact all notices stating that this License and any non-permissive terms added in accord with section 7 apply to the code; keep intact all notices of the absence of any warranty; and give all recipients a copy of this License along with the Program.

    That seems to be granting me distribution rights. But like I said, I'm not a lawyer so I'm assuming there is a flaw in my logic somewhere.

     

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    Steven (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:33pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    That makes sense. So the difference being 'licensed to perform X' vs 'copyright ownership of right to perform X'

     

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    sheenyglass (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:40pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Right - its analogous to how you are licensed to listen to a record you purchased and to make a copy by ripping mp3s, but you don't actually have standing to sue.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:41pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The GPL gives you permission to do things, provided you comply with its provisions.

    It does not give you *exclusive* rights or any copyright, so you can't sue for copyright infringement.

    Now, if you create something original (and fix it in a tangible medium of expression), then you'll have a copyright in that original work.

     

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  18.  
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    jason, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You are allowed to distribute the code, but you aren't allowed to claim copyright on the work of others - they still have copyright on their own work, additions, or modifications (unless they have somehow given up copyright).

     

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    sheenyglass (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:48pm

    Re: Re:

    Also the Rightshaven decision is not really anything new. The standing requirements at issue are well-settled and uncontroversial. The only reason it took so long is because Rightshaven was so dishonest about its ownership interest in the copyrights at issue.

     

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    Aerilus, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:49pm

    http://www.ubuntu.com/project/about-ubuntu/licensing

    I am not sure if you are arguing semantics but downloading Linux most definitely gives you the right to copy it


    Ubuntu is a collection of thousands of computer programs and documents created by a range of individuals, teams and companies.

    Each of these programs may come under a different licence. This licence policy describes the process that we follow in determining which software will be included by default in the Ubuntu operating system.

    Copyright licensing and trademarks are two different areas of law, and we consider them separately in Ubuntu. The following policy applies only to copyright licences. We evaluate trademarks on a case-by-case basis.


    Categories of software in Ubuntu

    The thousands of software packages available for Ubuntu are organised into four key groups or components: main, restricted, universe and multiverse. Software is published in one of these components based on whether or not it meets our free software philosophy, and the level of support we can provide for it.

    This policy only addresses the software that you will find in main and restricted, which contain software that is fully supported by the Ubuntu team and must comply with this policy.



    Ubuntu 'main' component licence policy

    All application software included in the Ubuntu main component:

    Must include source code. The main component has a strict and non-negotiable requirement that application software included in it must come with full source code.

    Must allow modification and distribution of modified copies under the same licence. Just having the source code does not convey the same freedom as having the right to change it. Without the ability to modify software, the Ubuntu community cannot support software, fix bugs, translate it, or improve it.



    Ubuntu 'main' and 'restricted' component licence policy
    All application software in both main and restricted must meet the following requirements:

    Must allow redistribution. Your right to sell or give away the software alone, or as part of an aggregate software distribution, is important because:

    You, the user, must be able to pass on any software you have received from Ubuntu in either source code or compiled form.

    While Ubuntu will not charge licence fees for this distribution, you might want to charge to print Ubuntu CDs, or create your own customised versions of Ubuntu which you sell, and should have the freedom to do so.

    Must not require royalty payments or any other fee for redistribution or modification.It's important that you can exercise your rights to this software without having to pay for the privilege, and that you can pass these rights on to other people on exactly the same basis.

    Must allow these rights to be passed on along with the software. You should be able to have exactly the same rights to the software as we do.

    Must not discriminate against persons, groups or against fields of endeavour. The licence of software included in Ubuntu can not discriminate against anyone or any group of users and cannot restrict users from using the software for a particular field of endeavour - a business for example. So we will not distribute software that is licensed "freely for non-commercial use".

    Must not be distributed under a licence specific to Ubuntu. The rights attached to the software must not depend on the program being part of Ubuntu system. So we will not distribute software for which Ubuntu has a "special" exemption or right, and we will not put our own software into Ubuntu and then refuse you the right to pass it on.

    Must not contaminate other software licences.The licence must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with it. For example, the licence must not insist that all other programmes distributed on the same medium be free software.

    May require source modifications to be distributed as patches. In some cases, software authors are happy for us to distribute their software and modifications to their software, as long as the two are distributed separately, so that people always have a copy of their pristine code. We are happy to respect this preference. However, the licence must explicitly permit distribution of software built from modified source code.

     

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  21.  
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    Aerilus, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:51pm

    "Simply put, open source projects without CLAs (Contributor License Agreements) will not be able to sue anyone for breaking the license agreement."

    maybe I am missing something big but I thought that was the whole point of open source. to avoid legal battle and lawyers like the plague that they are.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Simply downloading Linux doesn't give you any copyright rights. I'm not sure where you got that notion.

    Actually I think the GPL license does actually transfer some of the Section 106 rights to the end user. (All of you legal eagles out please correct me if I am wrong here).

    The first three 106 rights are:

    (1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords;

    GPL license says you can make all the copies you want to.

    (2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work;

    GPL license says you can do this too. (Actually it encourges it)

    (3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

    GPL licenses lets you do this also. You can absolutely build on other people's code and try to sell it if you desire.

    So, yes, I believe the GPL License does actually transfer some of the copyright rights.

     

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  23.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 12:56pm

    Re:

    I'll be honest. I didn't read your entire post.

    My point above is that downloading Linux doesn't give you a copyright or any other exclusive right, so you can't sue anyone else for violating your exclusive right.

     

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  24.  
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    MrWilson, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:19pm

    Re:

    You're confusing the terminology. A copyright is not a right to copy. Those are two different things.

    A copyright is a government-granted "right" to control how a work in a fixed medium can be copied, within the bounds of copyright law (i.e. you can't control how people copy your work if they do so in a manner consistent with fair use principles, unless you are a corporation and have a lot of money and Congress in your pocket).

    A right to copy a copyrighted work can be given via a license to whomever the copyright owner chooses. This can be an end user license agreement, a creative commons license, the GPL, et cetera.

    So downloading Linux gives you a right to copy but not the Linux copyrights. Copyrights are exclusive rights that can't be held by multiple entities.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    After posting this I read sheenyglass's comment below and I am realizing my mistake here. These rights I mention above are only licensed out, not transferred and that's a bit different I guess.

     

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    MrWilson, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    You're missing the most important part of Section 106, emphasis mine:

    "106. Exclusive rights in copyrighted works38

    Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:"

    These are exclusive rights for copyright owners, not rights to copy for licensees. A license cannot confer a copyright or else the license becomes invalid because the entity would no longer own the copyrights in order to license them if they conferred them to the licensee.

     

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    DannyB (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:32pm

    Re: Re: Open Source is Copyright law pure and simple

    Since the copyright owner can bring a suit, ANY of the individual authors can bring a suit. Each author is copyright owner of {his|her} own code. (eg, Linux)

    If a project gets copyright assignment from authors, then the assignee could bring suit. (eg, OpenOffice.org)

    Still Righthaven is irrelevant.

     

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  28.  
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    DannyB (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:36pm

    Re: Re:

    Downloading Linux does NOT make you the copyright owner, merely a licensee -- under the GPLv2 license.

     

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    Modplan (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:38pm

    Re: Re:

    No one said anything about giving you an exclusive right, why that's being brought in I have no idea. The entire point of the GPL is that by distributing GPL'd code, the reciever is automatically granted the ability to modify and distribute code. Anybody that forbids someone who recieved GPL'd code from redistributing or modifying it is in violation, so I'd imagine you could sue for someone breaching the license that explicitly grants you the ability to distribute and modify, even without being the copyright holder.

     

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    DannyB (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:39pm

    Re:

    I didn't read your entire post either.

    > I am not sure if you are arguing semantics
    > but downloading Linux most definitely gives
    > you the right to copy it

    Downloading Linux most certainly DOES NOT make you the copyright owner. You are merely a licensee, granted a license from the copyright owners. The license is known as the GPLv2. But you don't merely become copyright owner. Furthermore, you loose your status as licensee if you breach the license.

     

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    Brendan (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:40pm

    Re: Re: Undermining Open Source?

    Then perhaps not the use, but the contributions. Perhaps the idea is that fear their work would be "exploited" will stop some authors?

    Its silly whatever the intent was, because as Mike pointed out, its just flat out wrong.

     

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    DannyB (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:44pm

    Re:

    That's not the whole point. Part of it perhaps.

    The license expressly grants you many rights. Clearly. No need to ask permission individually. No need for each licensee to execute a license from the copyright owner.

    All you have to do is merely comply with the license. If you breach the license, you loose your license and therefore all licensed rights.

    People who breach the license deserve to be sued and sometimes have been.

     

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  33.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:49pm

    Re: Re: Re: Open Source is Copyright law pure and simple

    Sure. I guess the only case where an individual contributor couldn't bring a suit would be in the assignment case.

    I'm just wondering about the possibility that all the individual contributors to a work could be considered joint authors, in which case they could sue for copying of contributions they didn't themselves create, and could issue licenses (that don't conflict with whatever license they are already using) to code they didn't themselves create.

    The more I think about it, though, I think that they are probably not joint authors.

     

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  34.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:51pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Steven mentioned "rights that are lined out in copyright law." Since copyright grants exclusive rights, and he talked about standing to sue for copyright infringement, I thought/think that's what he meant.

     

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  35.  
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    IP Lawyer, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:51pm

    Practicing IP lawyer here.

    Wow. Whoever wrote that essay sincerely doesn't get it. IMO what Righthaven did is called Champerty, and it is, and should be, illegal. To say that the Righthaven ruling in any way affected a private party's right to transfer copyright is not only wrong, it is absurd.

    Not only that, this ruling has no conceivable impact on Open Source Licensing whatsoever. It simply is irrelevant. Transferring one of the 17 usc 106 rights INHERENTELY grants a right to sue thereunder. In other words, the Righthaven decision is the exact opposite of what this writer is claiming, specifically, that the right to sue is not a right that is covered by Copyright. The "exclusive rights" of copyright are listed in 17 USC 106, and only they can be transferred. The ability to sue is how one enforces these rights. That guy really just does get A1 about how law works.

     

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  36.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 1:54pm

    Re:

    Well, the structure of open source licenses depends on copyrights and at least the implied right to sue because, otherwise, people could violate the terms of whatever license you're using with impunity (i.e., by distributing commercial products without source code, etc.).

     

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    Tom Landry (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 2:18pm

    Parasites (aka attorneys) worrying about the public getting hip to their despicable, cancer-like actions on the economy and public at large.

    Just die already.

     

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  38.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 2:26pm

    Re:

    Such an poignant, well-balanced insight. Thank you so much.

     

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    Gwiz (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 2:30pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    These are exclusive rights for copyright owners, not rights to copy for licensees. A license cannot confer a copyright or else the license becomes invalid because the entity would no longer own the copyrights in order to license them if they conferred them to the licensee.

    Yeah, figured that out myself not too long after I posted that. Licensing a right isn't the same as transferring that right.

    It tends to get a bit confusing at times, especially with the GPL license, since it's basically working backwards from our current state of copyright laws and attempts to give rights back, but still has to be confined within the copyright laws in order to be enforceable. It's really kind of crazy in my opinion.

     

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    DannyB (profile), Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 2:57pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Open Source is Copyright law pure and simple

    I'm just wondering about the possibility that all the individual contributors to a work could be considered joint authors, in which case they could sue for copying of contributions they didn't themselves create, and could issue licenses (that don't conflict with whatever license they are already using) to code they didn't themselves create.

    Not clear what you are asking.



    > I guess the only case where an individual contributor
    > couldn't bring a suit would be in the assignment case.

    That depends on the nature of the assignment.

    But if the author couldn't bring suit, the assignee who obtained ownership of the copyright certainly could.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 3:14pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Open Source is Copyright law pure and simple

    I'm not really asking anything, just musing.

    What nature of assignment are you thinking of that would still let you sue? That *does* sound like a Righthaven problem.

     

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  42.  
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    MrWilson, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 3:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yeah. It would be a lot easier if we just scrapped current copyright laws and rewrote them from the beginning.

     

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    Nicedoggy, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 5:48pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Depends on the jurisdiction, in France I believe somebody sued a company and won because the judge on the case found that the GPL grant enough rights to third parties to be representatives of the original creator or something like that.

     

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  44.  
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    Nicedoggy, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 5:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    What about being given enough rights to be a representative of the interests of the rights holder?

     

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    MrWilson, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 6:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    The only people who can represent a rights holder are their lawyers...in court. You'll notice that despite the fact that all the members of the RIAA might sue someone for distributing their music and infringing their copyrights, the cases are always Universal Music Group v. ________ rather than RIAA v. ________. The RIAA never represents the actual companies as if they were rights holders.

    This is exactly why the Righthaven cases have no standing. Righthaven must be a rights holder in order to have standing to sue. Since the right to sue is not a transferable right, just negotiating for the right to sue is invalid grounds for filing a lawsuit.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 6:50pm

    Could Any Mere Recipient Of GPL’d Code Sue?

    Here’s my reasoning:

    * You receive some proprietorily-licensed code from Party X that contains components that were published under the GPL.
    * Party X who gave you that code under those restrictions is thereby violating your rights as granted to you under the GPL.
    * Does this give you the right to sue them?

    If the lawsuit were dismissed, does that mean the GPL is invalid? But if it is invalid, then Party X have no permission to use that GPL’d code at all, since the GPL is the only thing giving them that permission. Therefore they are automatically guilty of copyright infringement.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jun 22nd, 2011 @ 10:52pm

    Re: Could Any Mere Recipient Of GPL’d Code Sue?

    "Party X who gave you that code under those restrictions is thereby violating your rights as granted to you under the GPL"

    Err, no.

    Under your scenario, party X didn't license the software to you under the GPL, but rather under a proprietary license. Your rights were not violated in this way.

    The copyright holders of the GPL'd software they used, however, have indeed had their rights violated. They are the party with the standing to sue.

    Now, you may have cause to sue party X for fraud (they misrepresented that they were the copyright holders), but only if you were damaged as a result. This is a separate matter from copyright violation, however.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Nicedoggy, Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 2:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Sure, but I read about a court in France that concluded that the GPL grant enough rights to anyone that they can sue others.

    You see the GPL grant anybody all the rights that the original copyright owner had so the court concluded that the public in general is the copyright holder and can bring a suit against an individual or entity or something like that, which doesn't happen to "normal copyright".

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Nicedoggy, Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 2:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Here is the crux of the problem, the GPL grant anybody the same rights as the original creator under copyright, since copyright is about rights if everybody gets those rights they are all copyright holders and have a stake on it no?

    Even if you are not the original creator, you hold rights that were granted to you by another person and since you can grant those same rights to others merely by distributing it that makes you in fact a copyright holder of that software, that can sue others that infringe on your rights given by others, yes?

    I don't think it is that clear cut people can get to other conclusions if they stop to think about it.

    What are the rights copyrights grant you and what are the rights the GPL grants to others if they are all the same then in fact everybody is in fact a copyright holder of GPL code.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Aerilus, Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 3:49am

    Re: Re:

    alright I am on board now. My main point I guess would be that the point of the copyright on linux pretty much is to make any traditional purpose of having a copyright null and void. which i guess if you were a lawyer would be a fantastic logical pathway

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    icon
    jcar2 (profile), Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 8:15am

    Re: Re: Re:

    The GPL does NOT make copyright null and void, anymore than a Creative Commons license makes copyright null and void.

    The GPL is merely a license on TOP of copyright that grants more rights to the user. It also requires the user to pass along the same rights to others, if they distribute.

    If someone violates the GPL, then they are back to basic copyright, which allows no rights at all (all rights reserved and all that). So, Copyright is the foundation that the GPL rests upon. Without copyright there's no use for GPL (copyleft). (No, I'm not a lawyer, but you don't have to be a lawyer to understand the simple terms of a GPL license)...the FSF home page explains it quite clearly.
    http://www.fsf.org/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    icon
    Richard (profile), Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 8:16am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Also the Rightshaven decision is not really anything new.
    True - it is just a re-iteration of a basic principle of law. When you sue you do so co correct a wrong. Necessarily you must be the wronged party. In a copyright case that means you must be the holder of an exclusive right that has been violated. The recipient of "the right to sue" would only be able to sue if the right to sue had been violated. How that could happen is difficult to imagine (I've tried and failed!).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    icon
    hmm (profile), Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 9:07am

    why not

    just take it to the maximum extreme for claims?

    You guys just sided against RIGHT haven..that means erm..you're against anything thats RIGHT (including human rights) and giving a HAVEN to abused children...you monsters!!!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    dwg, Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 10:28am

    Re: Re:

    You don't gain any rights by downloading the kernel, since that copyright belongs to Linux and Linux has specifically chosen to make that kernel available to the public. So, to put it in common copyright terms, the kernel is the original work, and any forked project is a "derivative work." Copyrights in a derivative work extend only to the new material added to the original work, not the original work itself (otherwise anyone with the original work and its corresponding copyright could extend infinitely the copyright on the original work simply by creating derivative works--movies and their sequels, for example. Also, anyone creating a derivative work would somehow gain the copyright for the original work as well--giving a potentially endless number of derivative-works creators the copyright to the original.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    identicon
    dwg, Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 10:30am

    Re:

    yeah, dude: fuck you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Jun 23rd, 2011 @ 5:30pm

    Re: Could Any Mere Recipient Of GPL’d Code Sue?

    Under your scenario, party X didn't license the software to you under the GPL, but rather under a proprietary license.

    Which violates the GPL. Hence they took away rights I should have been granted.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    icon
    Karl (profile), Jul 9th, 2011 @ 3:13pm

    How the FSF does it

    I actually know the legal team at the FSF, so I'll explain what they do and why they do it.

    For any code that is submitted to an FSF Linux distribution, the FSF requires that the authors assign all copyrights to the FSF. That the code be released under the GPL is a condition for the assignment.

    The reason is simple: If the FSF finds out that a company violated the GPL (e.g. they "TiVO'd" the source code), and the FSF was not assigned the copyrights, then the FSF would have no standing to sue the violating company.

    It's the same with most open-source projects. If someone violates the GPL, only the author of the code that is infringed upon can sue. The GPL does not grant an exclusive license to users (in fact, that's the entire point), and an exclusive right is required for standing.

    Now, if a company (say, Red Hat) creates open-source software, usually they will require anyone who writes code for their "official" version also assign copyrights to Red Hat. Assuming it's not a "work for hire" in the first place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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