[ntp:questions] Copyright Ownership (was: poll interval - RFC compliance question)

David Woolley david at ex.djwhome.demon.co.uk.invalid
Sun Jun 15 09:55:22 UTC 2008

David L. Mills wrote:
[ In relationship to the ntpd code ]
> *                                                                     *
> * Copyright (c) David L. Mills 1992-2008                              *

If this is actually correct (i.e. it isn't a work for hire actually 
owned by the University of Delaware), it would be highly advisable to 
think about transferring ownership to a trust, or similar.

If Wikipedia is correct, David Mills has reached his three score years 
and ten.  When he dies, copyright ownership will be part of his estate, 
and unless his will donates that ownership to an appropriate trust, 
etc., or someone who shares his passion for NTP, you may be left with a 
situation where the licence terms are frozen for 70 years and cannot be 
modified to account for subsequent changes in case or statute law.  (I 
don't know if Delaware has any form of inheritance tax, but if it does, 
it is conceivable that the intellectual property might be considered to 
have monetary value and be taxable.  There is little precedent, as there 
are very few 70 year old authors of major pieces of open source software 
that still own the copyright.)

Even more of a danger is that he might become legally "incapable" before 
he dies.  Without some appropriate legal protection, that could leave 
things in limbo for many years.


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