[Python-Dev] Re: Re: license issues with profiler.py and md5.h/md5c.c

"Martin v. Löwis" martin at v.loewis.de
Sun Feb 13 20:38:47 CET 2005

Terry Reedy wrote:
> As I remember, my impression was based on the suggested procedure of first 
> copywrite one's work and then license it under one of two acceptible 
> "original licenses".  This makes sense for a whole module, but hardly for 
> most patches, to the point of being nonsense for a patch of one word, as 
> some of mine have been (in text form, with the actual diff being prepared 
> by the committer).

To my understanding, there is no way to "copyright one's work" - in the
terminology of Larry Rosen (and I guess U.S. copyright law), "copyright
subsists". I.e. the creator of some work has copyright, whether he wants
it or not.

Now, the question is, what precisely constitutes "work"? To my
understanding, modifying an existing work creates derivative work;
he who creates the derivative work first needs a license to do
so, and then owns the title of the derivative work.

There is, of course, the issue of trivial changes - "nobody could have
it done differently". However, I understand that the bar for trivial
changes is very, very low; I understand that even putting a comment into
the change indicating what the change was already makes this original
work. Nobody is obliged to phrase the comment in precisely the same way,
so this specific wording of the comment is original work of the
contributor, who needs to license the change to us.

> So, if the lawyer thinks patches should also have a contrib agreement, then 
> I strongly recommend a separate blanket agreement that covers all patches 
> one ever contributes as one ongoing work.

Our contributor's form is such a blanket agreement. You fill it out
once, and then you indicate, in each patch, that this patch falls under
the agreement you sent in earlier.

> Even though I am not such, I would happily fill and fax a blanket patch 
> agreement were that deemed to be helpful.

When we have sufficient coverage from committers, I will move on to
people in Misc/ACKS. You can just go ahead and send in the form
right away.


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