Re: Liability protection project - call for participants

From: Toni Mueller <toni(at)debian(dot)org>
To: spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org, debian-devel(at)lists(dot)debian(dot)org
Subject: Re: Liability protection project - call for participants
Date: 2007-05-15 09:30:15
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On Tue, 15.05.2007 at 18:11:03 +1000, Anthony Towns <aj(at)azure(dot)humbug(dot)org(dot)au> wrote:
> On Mon, May 14, 2007 at 03:51:40PM -0700, Bruce Perens wrote:
> > Some of us have homes, and other property that we would rather not place
> > at risk of any lawsuit connected with our Free Software activities. The
> > way to do that is to act as a volunteer on the behalf of a non-profit
> > corporation, with the corporation assuming your liability. [...]

> > owns property that we do not want to expose to liability. Copyrights of
> > software produced would be assigned to a non-profit like FSF or SPI*

> That said, giving up a little autonomy in exchange for potentially a
> lot of financial security is an entirely sensible tradeoff to consider,
> and it makes a lot of sense to do that before people start getting
> sued individually.
> It might be possible to do something like have SPI get copyright
> assignment for works in return for providing the authors with a vote (or
> a voice) on how they handle that copyright in future, which might ease
> the concerns about handing over control and could even be argued to be a
> "work for hire" arrangement making it a bit easier to deal with legally.

I'm unconvinced that such copyright assignments can be done in a way
that avoids creating an asset - in the form of the software - that the
bad boys can go after. Eg. IFF they (hypthetically) were to
successfully sue the FSF, then we'd lose a large chunk of important
stuff because the copyrights held by the FSF will probably be
confiscated in order to "pay" the damages. I'm also unsure that there
are no ways to extend such a liability if the contracts come to be
"work for hire" style or similar. Example: DDs work for "company A" which
directs them to do something, and "company B" assumes all the benefits
(the copyrights), specified that way in the contract between some DD
and company A. I'm not sure that such a contract would prevent company
B from being disowned in such a case.



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