[ntp:questions] I am not a lawyer

Dave Hart davehart at gmail.com
Wed Dec 23 21:18:32 UTC 2009

On Dec 23, 20:19 UTC, unruh wrote:
> On 2009-12-23, Dave Hart <daveh... at gmail.com> wrote:
> > I am however
> > interested in reducing the number of different copyright notices in
> > the reference implementation.  I'm grateful to Max K?hn and Claas
> > Hilbrecht for removing their copyright notices from sntp and
> > refclock_neoclock4x, respectively, relying on the overall distribution
> > copyright.  [...]
> The problem is that removing their copyright notice helps not at all,
> and in fact makes the situation more complex. copyright is automatic.

I too believe copyright is automatic in most jurisdictions today.  I
do not agree that reducing the number of diverse copyright claims and
accompanying BSD-ish licenses in the NTP reference implementation
"makes the situation more complex" -- quite the opposite.

Any arbiter of dispute is bound to look at the totality of the
evidence and not rely solely on automatic copyright as the end of the
story.  When I contribute code to the reference implementation, I do
not make any explicit assignment of my interests, but I also do not
make any attempt to exercise a copyright holder's prerogative to set
license terms.  Given that the reference implementation has a top-
level COPYRIGHT file and the documentation links to the same text in
html/copyright.html, I think it is clear I expect my contributions to
be distributed and licensed the same as the rest of the package.  If
Dr. Mills or ntp.org were to ask me to sign a copyright assignment or
release as a condition of contributing, I would not hesitate.  I would
prefer in the interest of the best software to avoid requiring
contributors to deal with paperwork, but it's not my call.

Similarly, while no one should rely on my opinions as legal advice,
When Max and Claas took affirmative steps to strip their copyright
claims and BSD-like licenses out of their contributed source, those
steps seem to me evidence of intent their contributions be covered by
the distribution-wide COPYRIGHT.  I have a hard time seeing how those
steps "make the situation more complex", as there are now two fewer
licenses for lawyers to get paid by the hour to dissect, and two fewer
places for packagers to find copyright notices potentially requiring
duplication into documentation.  So for now, I continue to be
interested in eliminating as many copyright claims and licenses from
the distribution as can be arranged with claimaints, with the ultimate
goal of having only the Mills/udel.edu copyright.

Dave Hart

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