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Evolution Bounty Stirs GPL Concerns

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the do-the-clauses-align dept.

Ximian 214

Moochman writes "The recent Desktop Integration Bounty (funded by Novell) will surely please people who want Evolution to be part of GNOME. But the Ximian Evolution copyright assignment has stirred up concerns in the community about whether contributors will be able to maintain their Free Software mores. Essentially, contributors to Evolution must give Novell copyright over any code they submit; then Novell is allowed to include this code in a proprietary product. Is this a smart business move, or a violation of the GPL?" Since all contributions are only at the request of the contributing coder, and considering that the copyright assignment form says that "Ximian agrees to grant back to Developer, and does hereby grant, nonexclusive, royaltyfree and noncancelable rights to use the Works," and specifies that Novell/Ximian release the code under a license compatible with the Debian Free Software Guidelines (such as the GPL), it seems to protect the contributors rather well.

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214 comments

haha omfg (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909603)

fp!

Re:haha omfg (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909615)

Q: What is the difference between an American and a piece of bird shit?

A: Bird shit doesn't scream as it falls 140 stories.

PS: That FP belonged to me. And I would've gotten it if it hadn't been for those stupid subnet bans.

Re:haha omfg (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909629)

What does NYFD stand for? Now You're Fucking Dead!

Re:haha omfg (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909663)

Q: Why are police and firemen New York's finest?

A: Because now you can run them through a sieve.

Re:haha omfg (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909979)

Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! HOLY SHIT, IT IS A PLANE!!!

CHANEY! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909612)

CHANEY AGAIN!

Re:CHANEY! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909623)

LOLlskaters!!!111!!oneoneone!!11

Mod parent up! This is really funny if you got the joke. :)

So ... (0, Offtopic)

SpooForBrains (771537) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909617)

will this garner anything useful, or will there just be three hundred different LJ/DJ/blogging connectors?

So..? (4, Insightful)

iantri (687643) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909624)

Plenty of other open-source programs require you to sign over the copyright, especially when the program is maintained by an organization (Apache? Mozilla? Xfree? I don't know, but I think at least one of those three requires this).

How is this any different? Because they are also going to sell a proprietary version? The developers will sign the rights over to Ximian, so how is this any different from dual-licensing like MySQLs? I mean, Ximian will own the code..

Re:So..? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909683)

Another big one is GNU.

Re:So..? (4, Insightful)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909691)

Yes, the fact that they are going to sell a proprietary version is precisely what will make it different for some people (and MySQL would be different for those people, too).

A developer who writes code and releases it under the GPL and only under the GPL and wants it to remain that way would not be likely to assign the copyright to Novell.

If it were me, I would grant *them* a worldwide, perpetual, royalty-free license to use the code under the GPL. Maybe I would even grant them that license to use it in a proprietary program as well, as long as it was in the GPLed one too.

But sign over my copyright and then have *them* give *me* a perpetual royalty-free license to use my own code? Umm, I don't think so. Not unless I work for Novell developing Evolution code, in which case they already own it and don't have to give me any license at all.

And how can I use my 'works' afterwards? (2, Insightful)

phulshof (204513) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910255)

It's even worse: if you use that code in another program, you will be limited in how you can license that program. You're not the copyright owner of part of that program, so you cannot just assign a license to it without permission from the copyright owner. The GPL will work, sure, but if you want to use that code with some form of other license, you will be running into trouble.

In other words: Novell will be the only one able to use _your_ code in a program where they get to decide the license. You can use that code in a program of your own, but you can't provide your users with any rights not provided by the licenses used by Novell.

In other words: No way am I going to contribute to such a program!

Re:So..? (3, Insightful)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909694)

You're right that this is not a new issue. It just keeps coming up. Some people are happy to assign their code as long as it will only be licensed as open source (e.g. FSF, ASF), and those people are whining about how they won't contribute to Evolution. I think Evolution can live without them.

That's slightly different (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909738)

Most of these, such as apache or GNU, require the code signover for reasons of ease of legal bookkeeping, or as a way of absolutely ensuring they have the right to use the code.. GNU requires this because part of their function is to police GPL violations, but they can't effectively take legal action concerning code they don't own. People rarely have trouble with signing over their code copyright in such instances because the projects in question have no form of greed or self-interest in asking for the copyright.

This Evolution thing meanwhile you're being required to hand over the copyright so that Novell can turn around and sell it in a proprietary product. This is slightly different. Rather than being asked to hand over the copyright for the good of the community and users, you're being asked to hand over the copyright for the good of Novell.

This is actually exactly like MySQL and a lot of people do hesitate before contributing code to MySQL for exactly this same reason.

Re:That's slightly different (2, Informative)

Donny Smith (567043) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909861)

Bruce Perens explains this problem here [userlinux.com]


"Red Hat has already proposed an answer to this problem, but I think it's the wrong answer. Their Fedora project is obviously intended to look like Debian. But unlike Debian, Fedora is an extremely unequal partnership. "Fedora" is where the community developers are supposed to build Red Hat's product, while the certifications and vendor endorsements are held back for the high-priced "Red Hat Enterprise Linux" brand. This is especially obvious in recent certification announcements: the Common Criteria certification will go to "Red Hat Enterprise Linux", not "Fedora". And of course the entire steering board of the Fedora project are Red Hat employees. Red Hat recently announced a second draft of the leadership structure for Fedora, in which they have eliminated voting, expressing the need to keep control in the hands of Red Hat's management. ...

How much would I advise a volunteer, community developer to contribute to Fedora? I think it makes sense to make Fedora packages for your own software - that way, you have some assurance that it will be packaged correctly. Beyond that, because of the vastly unequal partnership, I fear that a volunteer developer would be making himself an unpaid employee of Red Hat rather than a member of a real community. I guess that's OK if you think they'll hire you eventually. But I'd advise volunteer developers to concentrate their work on projects where the partnerships are demonstrably equal."


Follow The Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9910113)

UserLinux == Perens == Consulting Fee$

Re:Follow The Money (2, Insightful)

Donny Smith (567043) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910163)

Gee, if he's an open source developer, how the hell is he supposed to make a living if not by providing support, consulting or something like that?

Re:Follow The Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9910227)

You mean like RedHat does? ....

Re:So..? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909787)

It isn't different, it is exactly the same.

But you just cited the one reason why I would never contribute to MySQL. I am just not going to give an organisation certain rights to my work if that organisation is not going to give me equal rights to their work. I don't care about all the "they wrote 90% of the code so they should have more rights" arguments. So what if they wrote 90% of the code? They get a million times more revenue from it too.

I am sure they can do just fine without me, but it will indeed be without me.

Re:So..? (1)

ThePhilips (752041) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909856)

Sorry - you are not right about MySQL. AFAIK MySQL maintains GPL & non-GPL versions separately.

If you will contribute code to GPL's MySQL - it will not appear in proprietary one. MySQL people might choose to re-implement it for proprietary MySQL - but GPLed code will be held GPLed. On opposite side, MySQL AB makes some parts of their proprietary code GPLed - they are trying to keep both versions as close to each other as possible.

XFree86. Again you not right. One submitting code keeps all copyrights and what's more with her own license. Debian people did analysis of XFree86 and found about 40 variations of BSD license. Sometimes very different licenses. XFree86 folks admitted to be absolutely lax on licensing/copyrighting. Code with is genuinely XFree86 - is rather modest part of whole XFree86 (think applications, fonts, extensions, drivers, scripts, configs, etc).

I cannot be sure about Mozilla and Apache Software Foundation (ASF). IIRC both of them are pretty strict on licensing and copyrighting. I'm absolutely sure that they very strict on licensing: if you have submitted code under one license - you will be asked if project will like to change the license. That was a precedent with Mozilla going from MPL/GPL/LGPL -> GPL/LGPL - they have e-mailed every contributor with request for her/his code being transfered under different license. Apache didn't have had problems like that - I believe they are more to engineering, than to licensing - so I expect them to require copyright transfer, so if license will turns out to have a problem - they can address problem without years of getting "yes" from every contributor.

Relicensing process with its recent example in Mozilla have older cases: BSD's one I have heard about. RMS (Stallman of FSF/GNU) successfully argued to BSD folks that 4 clause BSD license (with acknowledgment clause) will only hurt in future - and since then BSD adopted 3-clauses BSD license, which is compatible with GPL.

Re:So..? (1)

BlackTyranny (782967) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910083)

Does this signing over of the rights for copyright prevent the author from selling the code itself under the author's own terms? In other words, can they still dual license the code under GPL and another license themselves, or are they cut-off from doing that now?

A no issue. (4, Informative)

saden1 (581102) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909638)

Developers are getting paid for their work. Essentially they are contract workers for Novell.

Re:A no issue. (4, Funny)

foidulus (743482) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909661)

Yeah, but it would be better if developers were getting laid for their work. Then I don't think you would hear anyone complaining about the licensing scheme :P

Re:A no issue. (2, Funny)

Florian Weimer (88405) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909791)

Yeah, but it would be better if developers were getting laid for their work.

If everything else fails, it shouldn't be a problem for a developer to get laid
off for his work.

Re:A no issue. (2, Funny)

darksaber (46072) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909835)

So if they're getting laid for their work, they're complaining about license rights on the video produced?

Too Easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909849)

They may not be getting laid but they're getting screwed

You insensitive Clod!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909641)

in our group uncover A story of your own towel in

As a regular user of Evolution (2, Insightful)

AliasTheRoot (171859) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909659)

This gives me an overwhelming feeling of "I don't give a crap"

I think myself, like the majority of people that use software could give a flying fsck about the license some software is using.

Gnu / BSD / X11 / Sell Grandmother into slavery - I don't care.

Evolution is a perfectly acceptable replacement for Outlook, so long as it continues being like that i'll use it. If some better software comes along that runs on my PC i'll switch.

Re:As a regular user of Evolution (1)

AntiOrganic (650691) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909742)

Evolution is a perfectly acceptable replacement for Outlook, so long as it continues being like that i'll use it.
Software doesn't exist without developers. If enough developers get up-in-arms about the loss of copyright to their code to stop collaborating with Novell, or fork the project completely, there's going to be some conceivable difficulty keeping pace with Outlook.

No Link Between GPL and Innovation (4, Insightful)

reallocate (142797) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909836)

You've exposed an underlying fallacy of open source and the GPL: No direct link exists between source availability and innovation.

In this particular case, the open source community is using a widely loathed proprietary program -- Outlook -- as both model and yardstick for one of it's premier offerings, Evolution. Ditto OpenOffice.

If the GPL does foster the creation of new and innovative applications, why has the community not already brought forth an email client and an office client that are so convincingly innovative, useful and attractive that people will happily abandon the Outlook/MSOffice paradigms in order to adopt them?

Granted, source availability does spread innovative ideas once they occur in the mind of a given developer. But, it seems clear that a developer working in a closed, proprietary environment can be just as innovative as one working in an free and open environment. Financial reward can, in fact, be a wonderful spur to creativity.

It could be argued, as well, that the availability of code works against innovation because developers often use existing code as a model rather than strike out into new territory.

The GPL and open source represent many good things, but they are no better or no worse at fostering creativity than the proprietary model.

Re:No Link Between GPL and Innovation (1)

treat (84622) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909945)

In this particular case, the open source community is using a widely loathed proprietary program -- Outlook

Outlook is by far the best email client ever. And I say this as a free software bigot who hasn't run Windows at home since 3.0 and is the only person at a company of thousands without a Windows workstation at my desk. Outlook is the only Windows program I use.

I started using it becasue I had no choice but to use Outlook to be able to use all of the Exchange features. I'm not sure if Evolution has reached the point where it can replace Outlook when used with Exchange.

For years I used crappy email clients, Pine, Elm, Mutt, Netscape. None were any good. Outlook is the first email client I have used that was any good. But in addition to being -any- good, it is very good!

Re:No Link Between GPL and Innovation (1)

reallocate (142797) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910077)

I didn't comment on the quality of Outlook. I said it is widely loathed, which is true, at least in the open source community.

However, are you arguing that the open source community can't do something better? That Outlook is, to all intents and purposes, the last email client?

Re:No Link Between GPL and Innovation (1)

treat (84622) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910150)

I didn't comment on the quality of Outlook. I said it is widely loathed, which is true, at least in the open source community.

Why would the open source community loathe an application which is clearly the best in its space?

However, are you arguing that the open source community can't do something better? That Outlook is, to all intents and purposes, the last email client?

No, just that it is by far the best email client, therefore it is not widely loathed.

Re:No Link Between GPL and Innovation (1)

AntiOrganic (650691) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910043)

The GPL and open source represent many good things, but they are no better or no worse at fostering creativity than the proprietary model.
Let's hear that same logic applied to software patents.

Re:No Link Between GPL and Innovation (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910044)

We have two: emacs, and mutt. The rest is just (very attractive) eye candy. Sure, "sexy-good-looking" is a force to be reckoned with...but *good* cooking lasts forever! You want to learn to cook? Or you want to suck on a lollipop?

Re:No Link Between GPL and Innovation (2, Insightful)

reallocate (142797) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910121)

If emacs and mutt are so good, why isn't everyone already using them?

It's a bit arrogant to argue that the only reason that the vast majority of users -- on any platform -- don't use eamcs or mutt is because they are attracted to eye candy. Most people, including myself, believe computers should make life easier. Software, therefore, is better when it offers more fnctionality combined with a flatter learning curve. That's where emacs, mutt and similar applications fall down: a lot of functionality combined with a very steep learning curve. Worse, once learned, that knowledge is essentially not transferrable elsewhere, which increases the demands on the user without providing an equivalent payoff.

Re:No Link Between GPL and Innovation (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910081)

Perhaps the reason they are cloning popular micros~1 programs is because they are attempting to get windows users to go "oooh, it's just like windows, only cheaper" and switch to Linux.

Which obviously isn't the right way to go about it, since windows users don't really care.

But that's all part of the open source thing. People who can program (most anyone) can write shit and gain influence in the community, even if they have no clue as to what they should be doing or how they should be doing it.

Re:No Link Between GPL and Innovation (2, Insightful)

bofkentucky (555107) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910114)

If the GPL does foster the creation of new and innovative applications, why has the community not already brought forth an email client and an office client that are so convincingly innovative, useful and attractive that people will happily abandon the Outlook/MSOffice paradigms in order to adopt them?

OpenOffice and Evolution are fighting in product segments where Microsoft has had a virtual stranglehold for the last 10 years. Compatibility with them is absolutely necessary to drive a wedge for more F/OSS into the corporate (and home) environment. Mozilla (and other 3rd party browsers) have a decided advantage in that the bulk of their incompatabilities with IE are due to standards non-compliance in IE and the apps that depend on IE are less than 5 Years Old. At some point in the future, OpenOffice and Evolution will have to add more features or die in the inovation game, but first they have to be "feature complete" with their competiors. IIRC, excel didn't take off until it had a good Lotus 1-2-3 compatibility layer and Word had to render WordPerfect documents well prior to acceptance.

Re:No Link Between GPL and Innovation (1)

reallocate (142797) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910151)

All true, but "fighting" in Microsoft's product segments is one agenda, and creating innovative software is another. Down the road, Evolution and OpenOffice may add their own unique features, but they have already cast their lot with the Microsoft model.

If someone's goal is to displace Microsoft products with F/OSS products, then mimicing MS software makes sense. If the goal, however, is to deliver innovative software, it doesn't make sense.

Re:As a regular user of Evolution (3, Insightful)

gujo-odori (473191) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909777)

Perhaps that should be amended to read "the majority of people that use software on Win, Mac, and other non-free operating systems." Of them, it is certainly true that most of them don't give a flying fsck about the license, and a good number of them are quiet willing to use warez, from which we can reasonably assume they don't care about compliance with the license either.

Among Linux users (and BSD users as well, although Linux users tend to be more "excitable" on this point), however, there are a great many people who care a great deal about the license. I sometimes used proprietary software if there is no acceptable alternative under a free license, but like a lot of people who use Linux, I will often choose a GPled (or other free-licensed) product over a proprietary one even if the proprietary one is better. The Free one just has to be "good enough" and under active development so that it is improving. Put another way, many of us will accept software that is far rougher and in a developmental stage as long as it is FOSS. If it's proprietary, we're going to demand more. Partly because of licensing and partly because if I'm paying for it, I should be able to reasonably expect that I am not paying to be a beta tester. Some of my gripe with proprietary software is that I have often found that no matter what the marketing spin says, it's so rough that in fact I *have* just paid to be a beta tester. When I want to beta stuff, I will volunteer. I certainly won't pay for the "privilege."

So yes, actually, many people do indeed give a flying fsck about the license on the software they use.

Re:As a regular user of Evolution (2, Informative)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909780)

I think myself, like the majority of people that use software could give a flying fsck about the license some software is using.

And so, I see a clear picture of a large, pink flamingo, with beautiful plumage, with its head in the sand.

I know, it's a myth - they really don't bury their heads in the sand, but that's not true of humans. People bury their heads in intellectual sand all the time.

Software licenses mirror politics in this respect. If anybody EVER begins to complain about the "damn gubmint" my first question is... "Did you vote?". If the answer is anything but "Of course" then nothing they say has any bearing on anything, and I'm very explicit about telling them so. I simply don't engage in verbal political discussions/debates with people who don't vote since they've already made it clear their voice doesn't matter.

So, people don't pay attention to the actions of our president, and don't think about what's going on, and then are screwed in the end.

And that's exactly what software licenses can do. Unix was very nearly killed by Microsoft because the Unix license encouraged forking and balkanization of an "open" product. They then were no longer interoperable, and development tanked. We nearly lost decades of valuable experience and capabilities!

Microsoft's licenses are even more restrictive... if you use your install CD on two computers, you are engaging in criminal behavior. Microsoft's licenses encourage interoperability (with other MS products) and it's the interoperability that people/developers bought.

GPL provides provisions to mitigate the encouragement to fork present in previous *nix licenses - and quite successfully. It's an acceptable balance between totally closed (the MS way) or totally open (the Unix way).

Given the choice between one extreme and the other, the right answer is almost always somewhere in the middle.

Ownership does matter. When you "Buy" software, you are buying it's functionality and a license to use it. Would you buy a CD Player if you could only use it under conditions you don't find acceptable? What if you bought a car that prohibited you from modifying it in any way, (including dice on the rear-view, or removing seats) and that prohibition was backed with the force of law?

Let's try this post with a different kind of product. What if you didn't "buy" a car, but rather just the right to use said car?

"I think myself, like the majority of people that use cars could give a flying fsck about the title of ownership some car is using."

Doesn't that sound a wee bit different?

Re:As a regular user of Evolution (1)

AliasTheRoot (171859) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909853)

Flamingos don't bury there head in the sand, it's Ostriches you are thinking about.

Whats complaining about the "damn gubmint" got to do with voting? Democracy is arguably a myth propogated to make people beleive they are in control of a country. The fact that in a succesful democracy, such as the UK only 30-40% of people bother to vote for the candidates presented, that have identical policies is sort of damning isn't it?

Btw, using unlicensed software isn't a criminal offence, it's a civil offence. There is a difference.

As wierd as it may seem, the vast majority of people don't see computing as some political statement - they are tools we use in our daily lives, just the same as our cars or kettles - if someone got all emotive and political about a kettle you'd think them insane.

The reason i'm not out protesting or championing computer license issues is exactly the same reason I don't protest against animal testing - in some abstract way i care about both of these things - but it's really not important to my life, and it won't be until people stop starving or killing each other.

Re:As a regular user of Evolution (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910272)

And your argument might have weight when: 1) I have to pay 150$ for a kettle that doesn't even heat water without spending another 400$+. 2) When the quality and compatibility level of software has become so standardized that I can swap out any piece of software with any other and make it work. 3) When the makers of a kettle can sue you for making tea for you and your friends without them also paying full price for the kettle.

You should care, it matters (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909838)

The licensing of the software does matter in general, as it can effect its availability to the masses, including yourself.

Get a license too far whacked, and it becomes effectively un-distributable, ( or commercial ) and effects everyone...

Does that happen in this case? I don't know, but the general concept of what is happen should be of concern to you as a user of 'free' software.

As a side note, I do agree though that it has all gotten out of hand with all the license/ip/patents/copyright issues, but all we have to blame is the lawyers, ( and ourselves for letting it get this far )

GPL Fanboys? (1, Troll)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909684)

The recent Desktop Integration Bounty (funded by Novell) will surely please people who want Evolution to be part of GNOME. But the Ximian Evolution copyright assignment has stirred up concerns in the community about whether contributors will be able to maintain their Free Software mores.

Not everyone here or in the OSS "movement" is a GPL fanboy. So like the BSD lic.

The FSF asks people to sign over copyright also (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909686)

The Free Software Foundation [gnu.org] also asks programmers to sign over the copyright of any code they contribute. Ditto with the OpenOffice people. This is a perfectly normal request; having code licensed under both the GPL and some other license is quite common (OpenOffice, etc.).

Nothing to see here, move along.

Re:The FSF asks people to sign over copyright also (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909707)

Would there even be a question if the GPL wasn't so complicated?

Re:The FSF asks people to sign over copyright also (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9910108)

The FSF copyright assignment contract says that the FSF will always keep the software free however. The Novell one says that Novell has the right to release the software under a non-free license. That's a huge difference.

Personally I would only sign a copyright assignment when the copyright assignment says the software isn't allowed to be released under a non-free software.

Re:The FSF asks people to sign over copyright also (1)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910147)

"Nothing to see here, move along."

Crap, I'm confused now. Who'm I supposed to aim my pitchfork at?

Not In Perpetuity (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909692)

That means that external contributions WILL BE MADE AVAILABLE UNDER A FREE LICENSE. It doesn't say "in perpetuity", which is interesting, and I'd have to ask a lawyer what that implies.

No one will believe it here. The system is working looking for exploits ... erm ... exploitation.

CC.

Re:Not In Perpetuity (1)

mechsoph (716782) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909733)

IANAL, but once the release the code under a free license, I wouldn't think they could "unlicense" it. Dual licensing setups seem to be fairly common (MySQL, QT). Seems the only problem is what you run into with the BSD license of a proprietary fork running over the free version. You'll still always have the free version though.

Re:Not In Perpetuity (1)

foobsr (693224) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909907)

Other positions have been "vented":

------
On Fri, 2004-08-06 at 22:06 +0000, Carlos Morgado wrote: > So Rui is sort-of-right, he's just picking on the wrong point or believing > it's blidingly obvious the "or" between Works and Program makes it possible > for a non free version for Evo to be released as long as the original patch > remains unchanged.

It's not an or that's the problem. It's:

A. B.

Two sentences. Neither of them acceptable on a GPL project.

A ~= We'll make it available under a DFSG (or whatever the current wording is) license B ~= Besides that, we'll be able to, at our sole discretion, license it in another kind of license.

B is totally legal, after all, they _are_ the new copyright holders. However, you're giving them copyrights without anything in return, like the reason why the GPL exists: to keep software Free.

The collection of all the rights without any promise to maintain the terms of the GPL is for all pratical effects a circunvention of the GPL.

Such a copyright assignment contract shouldn't be admissible in any gnome module (much less so blindly defended by any GF board member).

Rui

------

From the "Evolution copyright assignment: Storm in a teacup" thread [gnome.org] .

CC.

Re:Not In Perpetuity (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9910193)

Once you release code under the GPL or the GPL liscence it automaticly becomes from for ever and ever.

Even if the original guys close all their FTP sites and forbids people from spreading the code, you will still have GPL code sitting on people's computers and in their backups that is still perfectly legal to use.

GPL is like a genie in the bottle. Once you let the code out in the wild, it'll stay there and there is nothing you can do about it. You can always put the stopper back in and stop more contributions from yourself but what is out there is out there and you have no control over it.

That's why, although distastefull, most programmers don't mind letting projects take over their copyrights to contributed code. As long as it's under a BSD or GPL type liscense they can the greater code with no strings attatched.

Remember:

Copyright != Liscense.

For instance part of the SCO debacle is that Novell sezs that they gave SCO a liscence to distribute the code and use the copyrighted terms, but did not transfer ownership over to them.

Slashdot food? (5, Insightful)

dot-magnon (730521) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909696)

As far as I can see it, this really is an internal debate. The complaints have been made, and resolutions are starting to take place, and THEN it ends up on Slashdot? Where's the BS filter gone? This is completely irrelevant for someone outside of the community to solve, and it's the community that will eventually resolve this. In addition, there are multiple discussions that have been mistaken for one here: The bounties are not directly involved with the copyright assignment debate at all.

Just leave it already. Seems that this passes pretty unseen amongst outsiders anyway.

GPL concerns? (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909697)

I don't pretend to know the GPL but I think I know the spirit of it pretty well.

I think that so long as the code remains free, I have no problem with an organization being enabled to use the code in their own commercial product. I think it would be ridiculous for them not to be able to gain benefit from the activity they sponsor.

I guess what they are trying to do is say "okay, anything you give is ours first and then we give it back... but we want to be able to use it in proprietary code but you still get to keep the code too..."

Re:GPL concerns? (1)

ruyon (660897) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909764)

Well, I believe what GPL asks for is freedom (and code), not money per se.

BSD license (0, Troll)

n0dez (657944) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909765)

I think that in this case (and in many others) the BSDL fits better than the GPL.

Re:BSD license (2, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909806)

No, since the BSD license would give everybody the right to do whatever they want with the code, I doubt that is what Novell wants that.

As it stands now, only Novell can do what they want with the code, as they get the copyright, and everybody outside of Novell 'just' gets the GPLed version and can't thus reuse the code in a proprietary product as Novell can.

KDE Integration (3, Interesting)

SpooForBrains (771537) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909699)

Desktop Integration Bounty


Hopefully it will integrate with KDE a little better. Little things like sound would be nice - or being able to configure it without having to fire up Gnome Control Centre.

It's probably never going to happen, because Evolution is Gnome through and through, but it would be nice to be able to run it without all those Gnome libraries eating up memory. The performance hit since upgrading to SuSE 9.1 has been really noticeable. ... and before someone mentions KMail, I've tried it, I hate it, and it crashes. Which is annoying since I use all the other elements of Kontact.

Re:KDE Integration (5, Funny)

harvalen (524793) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910004)

Maybe we need to start KDE project as answer to Evolution?

Let's call it Kreationism ;)

MOD PARENT UP, please (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910257)

ROFL; That was damn funny. I just may have to use that for one of my kde apps if it does not get used.

Re:KDE Integration (1)

abigor (540274) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910271)

Kmail crashes on you? I am on several active mailing lists and get hundreds of emails a day, plus I regularly send stuff with huge attachments and coordinate stuff with Korganizer, etc. And I never get crashes. So maybe there's something weird about your KDE install...?

Overall, I like it way more than I like Evolution.

It is OK. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909705)

Sounds fine by me.

If I write software and license it, I can license it to many partys under different terms.

I can GPL it AND license it to Novell. Why not?

Of course, if my work is a derivative of work owned by someone else, that's a different situation.

However, this particular situataion isn't derivative work.

Heck, many products that are later GPL'd fall under the "multiple licensees, multiple licenses" situation. This is no different.

Not according to the article. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909783)

From the article:
"Ximian agrees to grant back to Developer, and does hereby grant, nonexclusive, royaltyfree and noncancelable rights to use the Works,"...

So. YOU write the code and then you give ALL THE RIGHTS to Novell.

Then Novell licenses YOUR CODE BACK TO YOU.

Re:Not according to the article. (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910245)

So. YOU write the code and then you give ALL THE RIGHTS to Novell.

Then Novell licenses YOUR CODE BACK TO YOU.


This is the sort of thing that could only happen in Japan.

Um... so what? The FSF does this too! (4, Informative)

benmhall (9092) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909709)

So does my project. [sf.net]

As I mentioned on the linked page: "Also, the FSF makes all contributors attribute copyrights to the FSF. They do this for legal reasons. Mozilla did not, and when they decided to re-license, they had to contact every contributor. Because of this, we too require that any contributors attribute the copyrights to the jasabe project. Of course, you are still free to fork the project and keep your changes under your copyright, but we cannot accept your changes into the main jasabe tree."

Don't believe me? More info can be found on the FSF page [gnu.org] as well as on their FAQ. [gnu.org]

Not that it matters much for our project. It's only important if you have contributors. ;-)

MySQL Dual Licensing (5, Insightful)

william_lorenz (703263) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909710)

We were able to recently bring Jeremy Cole of MySQL in to talk with our group [clevelandlug.net] , and he explained that MySQL has a very similar dual-licensing methodology. This allows MySQL to sell their software commercially for those who want to include it in their products (I understand MySQL is used in telecom lots), and the companies that purchase it don't have to distribute the source with their products (which would be a hardship for them and possibly prevent them from using MySQL as a result). Additionally, MySQL AB is able to release the open version of MySQL for those who want to modify the source and tinker to their hearts contents. All contributors to the MySQL codebase have to sign-off on their code and the dual licensing, and this seems to be working well around the board, with a win-win for everyone. This way of doing things seems to support the company and a great database!

Re:MySQL Dual Licensing (3, Interesting)

Alan Cox (27532) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910209)

I think the big difference in the debate is that up until now the core Gnome apps haven't had such policies and people are worried about them getting everywhere.

From day one mysql and open office have had clear policies about how they work. Their communities are built of people who accepted that when they joined while the people who didnt went elsewhere

In the Gnome case it is making a change later on than the beginning, which makes it more divisive although the thread is probsbly larger and more acrimonious than its importance in the big picture actually is 8)

Anti-proprietary not anti-corporate (1)

polin8 (170866) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909715)

Its easy to be anti-Big.biz in the US, unless you are Big.biz

I may even be on the ani-B.b side myself, but I think its a mistake to mix the FOSS (anti-proprietary software) movements too closely with an anti-corporate mentality. Not as a question of right/wrong but as a question of tactics and achievable goals.

Open Source will win, the paradigm shift is happening, but open source will not change those nature of the Big.biz economy.

Free Software requires going further than open source, and I think its way too early to call whether free software will win. Free Software is a low hanging fruit after open source is mainstream, tying it to a general anti-corporate movement will make it more difficult.

It's really pretty simple. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909719)

Whoever writes the code gets to determine what type of copyright to use. If you don't like Novells copyright policy, don't give them any code. If you aren't a programmer and think this is wrong then you had better learn to write your own code.

Well, uh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909745)

I think the idea here is we are discussing some people who are saying they aren't going to contribute code because of this.

GCC requirement (1)

KatTran (122906) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909743)

This is requirement for all code contributions to GCC.

You have to assign the copyright to the FSF which most people will probably agree is more benevolent than Novell, but there is nothing new here and it is definitely not a violation of the GPL.

Hey Tim, nice editorial (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909778)

Hey Tim, nice editorial

Makes sense... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9909782)

Novell is giving you money and you have to give them the copyright.

Whoever want pure GPL can fork Evolution....

Licenses (1)

nebulus4 (799015) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909786)

Is this a smart business move, or a violation of the GPL?

While I can't say anything about this being a smart business move, I can take on the GPL part.

I don't think it violates GPL, because it's not certain that the "Works", as they chose to call it, will be released under GPL: "Ximian may at its sole discretion also offer the Works or a Program enhanced by the Works under other license terms." Note that you'd agree all copyrights to be transferred to Ximian and therefor it would be their decision to choose the license. I also don't think GPL prohibits the code to be used in commercial programs as long as they freely disribute the source. If they indeed release "Works" under the GPL then calling it proprietary code would be kind of doll, as they won't exclusively own it. Well, if I understand GPL correctly... It might be a good idea to consult with your lawer.

I think it's a good thing (2, Insightful)

metalac (633801) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909790)

It's a damn good thing to have these bounty hunts. It really involves a lot of people but at the same time it repays the people who have worked so hard to get some of the things done.

As far as the licences goes, does it matter? I mean if i wrote something got $1000 for it and decided it was worth selling my code, I'd have no problem with it. It seems that there are people out there who would like you to have a choice on what to do with the code as long as you let everyone see and use your code as they please. Not a lot of choice there, right? In my opinion it all comes down to the developer, if he wants to do something let him. As far as I'm concerned those devs got paid for by Novell for whatever they did, so at least Novell should be able to use some of that code elswhere also.

Let's say Novell comes out with Evolution and Evolution PRO. Regular version is Open Source, the Pro version is $100. If I as a dev submited some code that found it's way in both versions I'd have no problem with it since there is a free version that uses my code anyways. If i submited a code that found it's way only in Pro then I'd have a problem with it. Basically what I'm getting at is that the $100 Novell charges you for pro is probably not due to my code, but some other code that Novell developed not under GPL but under some propiatery license or something.

Letter and Spirit of the GPL (2, Insightful)

LibrePensador (668335) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909811)

This is not a legal issue but a moral one. The GPL is intended to create an ecosystem of free software and to discourage the creation of proprietary code, because proprietary code makes it illegal for me to help my neighbor.

What Novell is asking people to do is to sign over the copyright to their code so that they can produce both proprietary and GPL software based on that code.

Well, what happens when all the nice bells and whistles are only added to the proprietary version of evolution? This version becomes much more appealing. As a result, there is a demand for it and users begin to leave the GPL version in drones.

In the end, the bulk of the app's code is only released to lower maintenance costs, while the nice bells are proprietary and you can no longer share the software freely. In philosophical terms, Novell's decision is purely utalitarian, rather than based on the conviction that Free Sofware is the morally correct choice.

In essence, Novell's request for copyright respects the letter but violates the spirit of the GPL.

By signing your copyright over to Novell, you are saying that you do not care all that much about creating communities that share free software, because you are implicitly allowing your code to be contributed to a non-free application. The only way I would sign my code over is if Novell agrees to distribute ALL OF evolution under the GPL at PERPETUITY.

Re:Letter and Spirit of the GPL (2, Insightful)

SpooForBrains (771537) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909837)

Well, what happens when all the nice bells and whistles are only added to the proprietary version of evolution? This version becomes much more appealing. As a result, there is a demand for it and users begin to leave the GPL version in drones.

Yes, because everyone chooses to use StarOffice over OpenOffice and Crossover over Wine.

... pratt.

Re:Letter and Spirit of the GPL (0)

isolation (15058) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910134)

Very true. We have a lot of customers of CrossOver but there are plenty of people that just use stock Wine for the Windows apps they need. By buying CrossOver or StarOffice you make it possible to insure the really nasty bugs get fixed that maybe someone working on FreeSoftware as a hobby does not want to mess with.

Re:Letter and Spirit of the GPL (1)

theantix (466036) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909991)

Well, what happens when all the nice bells and whistles are only added to the proprietary version of evolution? This version becomes much more appealing. As a result, there is a demand for it and users begin to leave the GPL version in drones.

What happens? I can't remember exactly, but I think it has to do with cutlery. Spoon, knife, ???

This is not an issue with the GPL at all, this is an issue with theoretical people not contributing to Evolution because their patches could someday potentially be used in proprietary software. Because Evolution is licensed under the GPL there is zero concern about the software itself. The issue is not "does this violate the GPL", this issue is "will people contribute patches if they (a) have a problem with the licensing, or (B) have to go through the hassle of signing Novell's forms".

Re:Letter and Spirit of the GPL (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910226)

Because Evolution is licensed under the GPL there is zero concern about the software itself. The issue is not "does this violate the GPL", this issue is "will people contribute patches if they (a) have a problem with the licensing, or (B) have to go through the hassle of signing Novell's forms".

The license specifies DFSG-compliant, not GPLed. That's less innocent.

Re:Letter and Spirit of the GPL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9910032)

OK, so you have the situation where Novell / OpenOffice / [Insert more names here] owns all rights to an open source project.

What prevents them from just revoking the GPL license, going all proprietary and beginning to take money for it? Or even closing the source? I mean, they own all rights to it. Even if it is merely a "technicality".

Observation: It seems to me that in this case, free software, or even open source, is all based on the faith that the organization will act in the future as it does now. How do we know that? How do we secure it? Certainly not by handing over the copyrights, at least in my mind.

Does publishing a project under a GPL license at some point ensure that the project may be continued under GPL at the "point of departure"?

Or may the copyright holder (in this case Novell) decide that the GPL licensing terms no longer apply, and since they own the work completely, suddenly forbid *any* GPL versions at all? Even those that existed just before the "point of departure"?

Re:Letter and Spirit of the GPL (4, Informative)

GileadGreene (539584) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910189)

Or may the copyright holder (in this case Novell) decide that the GPL licensing terms no longer apply, and since they own the work completely, suddenly forbid *any* GPL versions at all? Even those that existed just before the "point of departure"?

Short answer: No.

Longer answer: Novell (or any other copyright owner for that matter) owns the copyright, which is what allows them to decide which license to release a product under. However, if you obtain a GPLed product from a copyright owner, they have granted you the rights laid out in the GPL, such as the right to freely redistribute, and the right to make modifications (provided said mods are released GPL as well). That license cannot be retroactively cancelled. All that Novell could do is refuse to release all future versions of Evo under the GPL. At which point the GPLed version of Evo would probably fork into a separate project. That's the beauty of GPLed code - once it's out there, it's out there. Doesn't matter if the company producing the code goes belly-up, or decides to stop providing updates, or whatever. The code is still there, and can still be worked with.

Re:Letter and Spirit of the GPL (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910090)

In a nutshell: "The GPL is intended to create an ecosystem of free software and to discourage the creation of proprietary code, because proprietary code makes it illegal for me to help my neighbor."

So the real question is can we devise methods for proprietary code development, so that proprietary code can exist while not making it illegal for us to help our neighbor?

Then it shouldn't be part of Gnome (3, Insightful)

Qwavel (733416) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909891)


This is not a violation of the GPL.

But this is a reason to not make Evolution an integral part of Gnome.

There is nothing wrong with Novell doing this, but please don't compare it to situations where developers are asked to assign their code to a foundation. The wxWidgets, Mozilla, Gnome, Apache, Python, etc. foundations have mandates to help their users and contributors. Novell is a corporation, and it is ultimately only responsible to its shareholders.

Novell with Evolution and Sun with OpenOffice - these are like TrollTech with Qt. Better than closed source, but not as good as software which is guided by the interests of its users and developers.

Well, lets see.. (2, Insightful)

T-Ranger (10520) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909905)

I think the worst that could happen is that you get screwed out of a days work - work that you intended to be GPLd. Let me explain: Evolution is in a public CVS repository. I dont know if they have ever given non-staffers +w permissions, but lets say for the sake of argument, that even if they do, you are not one of them. Thus your code has to be review by a staffer. Lets say that that takes 24 hours.

As soon as your code is accepted and put into CVS, you can check it back out, under the GPL. The GPL is non-revokeable. Now having GPL rights to the code is not exactly the same as having ownership of it. Legally it is very different. Pragmaticly, as soon as it is in the public CVS your goal of submitting code the public good has happened. If you are very paranoid, only give them small chunks at a time, making sure that you can checkout your work before you give them more.

What you have lost is the right to take that part of Evolution and close it, sell it as closed code. Now, since you dont own the rights to the other 99% of Evolution, not much lost. Furthermore, Evolution is a fairly large and complex beast so unless you are working on it full time, I think it is unlikely that you could possibly contribute anything that would be usefull outside of Evolution. That is, your doing bugfixes, implementing minor features.

But what if your work is generic stuff that could be used outside Evolution? Do this: write it up as a library. Release the library under whatever license you want - retaining the ownership, and the right to sell it as closed code - and then only give Novell patches to Evolution such that it takes advantage of your library.

Re:Well, lets see.. (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910215)

As soon as your code is accepted and put into CVS, you can check it back out, under the GPL.

Nope. Re-read the license. It says "DFSG compliant", not "GPLed". I dunno what licenses fit the DFSG, though.

Why not joint copyright? (3, Interesting)

mmurphy000 (556983) | more than 9 years ago | (#9909912)

OpenOffice.org addressed this via a joint copyright assignment. In fact, IIRC, they started with a copyright assignment akin to Novell/Ximian's, but then eventually decided to do a joint copyright assignment in the interest of spurring more contributions.

IANAL, NDIPOOTV (Nor Do I Play One On TV), but a joint copyright assignment means that the original author retains all their original rights, and can license their code however they wish, but that the other signatory (in the case of Oo.org, Sun) also can license it how they choose.

Novell is paying for this code... (4, Insightful)

ravi_n (175591) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910002)

I really don't understand what people are unhappy about. Novell is offering to pay people to add certain features to Evolution and Gnome. In return for that payment, Novell wants to own the copyright of the resulting code (so they can also use it in their proprietary products), but they promise to also make sure the code is released under a free license (not unreasonable since they are making the offer to a community of free software developers). If you don't like those terms, feel free to not send your code to Novell and not collect any bounty. If other people do like those terms, that is their business.

Re:Novell is paying for this code... (1)

0x0d0a (568518) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910197)

The worst possible light you can put on this is that Ximian is forking Evolution to be non-GPL. That does nothing to the current coebase. If people are interested in maintaining Evolution, they're certainly free to produce their own "true, GPLed forever" fork. Look at XFree86 and xorg.

I think that people should be using mutt, anyway. :-)

Expect to see more of this... (1)

eamacnaghten (695001) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910049)

Expect to see more of this dual licensing stratergy, at least for now.

You can already see this in OpenOffice.Org [openoffice.org] and in MySQL [mysql.org] . I am also attempting this in my EDL Language Project [edlsystems.com] . I do not think it is a bad thing and will in the long term enrich free/open software.

Dual Licensing is a very good intermediatory from a proprietary to a free software environment.

no different than FSF (1)

noldrin (635339) | more than 9 years ago | (#9910119)

This is often how the FSF works, the difference being one's for profit and the other is non profit. If you want to work on evolution and you don't want to fork over your copyright, then fork the program instead. But with so many email clients for Linux, I'm not overly worried.

minus 3, troll) (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9910143)

the latest Netcraft don't ffel that

Following in the footsteps of Sun Microsystems (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#9910246)

I will never contribute to OpenOffice or even take the time to familarize myself with the code. Those developers that contribute to the offical OpenOffice CVS must sign a Joint Copyright Assignment to Sun Microsystems, Inc. ("Sun") [openoffice.org] . In Jan. 2001, I voiced similar conserns about this practice as is now being voiced about Novell. Brian Behlendorf stated that assigning control to Sun (a company with a charter to do what is in the best interest of it's board) is similar to assigning control of copyright to the FSF (a non-profit org with a charter to do what is in the best interest of Free Software).

But despite the fact that I don't see the similarity, it didn't matter because as Brian Behlendorf said,
"Sun doesn't want to own this code. They want to hand the IP ownership off to an independent entity that can manage the IP assignments, be a non-profit so that liability can be checked, and be completely non-partisan towards any company, including Sun."

And now that three years have passed since Jan. 2001, that non-profit which I can assign joint assignment of copyright to... still does not exist. AFTER *3* (THREE) **YEARS**?!?! Hello! Brian Behlendorf? Is Sun in any rush to create this non-profit? Do you even have an ETA yet?

So... why is it we are so conserned with Novell now? I'm sure they will also assign copyright control over to a non-profit... about as quickly as Sun does for OpenOffice. Until then, we should all sign our hard work over to corps. via joint assignment agreements. After all, Sun/Novell are "similar" to the FSF. It isn't like corp. type people like Brian Behlendorf would ever lie. If they say that a non-profit will be formed soon to address any conserns then I'm sure that is what will happen.

Wait a second... it has been THREE YEARS?! I have been lied too! Anyone think it is time to tackle the Sun issue first? Maybe we should address where Sun is going with their "supposed" non-profit before attacking Novell for following the same model. At least from my expierence with Novell, they will be more responsive than taking three years. But from my expierence, I can't say the same for Sun.
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