[TOS] Textbook authors: Copyright Assignment, please respond

Greg DeKoenigsberg gdk at redhat.com
Thu Sep 17 21:36:50 UTC 2009

On Thu, 17 Sep 2009, Ross Gardler wrote:

>> * Are we getting together a textbook sprint at FSOSS?  Which authors can
>> make it?  How much time can we spend on it?
> I'm planning on being there, but there are some legal issues... (I've
> said too much about that already).

Well, let's make sure everyone understands them, since Ross and I have 
been having some of these conversations out of band.  To recap the 
situation as I understand it, and Ross, please feel free to correct me 
where I err:

* Ross really needs a Contributor License Agreement process in order to 
justify the participation of OSS Watch -- a not-uncommon problem in our 
world.  Fedora requires folks to sign a CLA, for instance.

* This also requires a single copyright holder -- i.e. the party with 
whom the CLA is binding.  Which would require all authors to sign away 
their copyright.  Our options:

   + TOS as an org.  We're not there yet, I don't think.

   + FLOSS Manuals as an org.  I don't know that FM exists as a legal
     entity either, since the copyrights seem to mostly be owned by
     Adam Hyde.

   + Some company.  I'd like to avoid that.

   + An individual.  I suppose this could be me, or Adam Hyde of FLOSS

None of these options seem particularly appealing.  It's a tricky problem.

Since we've all agreed that the license will be BY-NC-SA, it's a trivial 
matter to reuse the content you write if you sign away your copyright. 
It does, however, mean that you would lose the right to dual license that 
content -- if, for instance, you also wanted to sell the rights to your 
chapter to some Linux magazine or something.

The first question, though, is a simple one: authors, are you willing to 
assign your copyright to some single entity?  If the answer is yes, we can 
figure out what entity that should be.  If the answer is no, then we're 
basically saying "no CLA, so sorry Ross."

Input welcome (and, in fact, required) from authors on this question.


Computer Science professors should be teaching open source.
Help make it happen.   Visit http://teachingopensource.org.

More information about the tos mailing list