svn commit: r187580 - head/tools/sched

Robert Watson rwatson at
Fri Jan 23 02:05:07 PST 2009

On Fri, 23 Jan 2009, Ivan Voras wrote:

> I'm not a lawyer (very obviously - no talent for it all :) ) and was 
> probably wrongly interpreting the Geneva copyright convention.

It's not clear how relevant the Geneva copyright convention is at this point, 
given that most countries of interest are signatories to the Berne convention. 
Certainly once the US signed the convention, things got a lot more consistent. 
One of the interesting things about Circular 92 is how many of the weird 
clauses in it apply only to things created before the US joined the Berne 
convention (almost one hundred years after the date of the original 

> Can someone write a "practical guide to FreeBSD copyright matters for 
> developers" somewhere - wiki perhaps? (it could also include GPL-related 
> guidelines - GPLv3 even if there's consensus about it).

ORA has quite a nice, if rather US-centric, book on intellectual property and 
open source.  I picked up a copy at EuroBSDCon last year and was favourably 
impressed.  In general, my belief is that open source developers need to pay 
significant attention to intellectual property, as the "open" in open source 
is just as important as the "source" bit -- hacking code is easy, making sure 
everyone can use the result turns out to be a lot harder.  Computer scientists 
often suffer from two or three common misunderstandings of copyright law, 
certainly: that they understand it, that it can't be understood, and/or that 
it doesn't matter.

There is a committer's guide page on licenses, which basically says "if you 
use these licenses then you don't need core approval", but I think producing 
something a bit more substantive would be useful.  The Foundation board and 
the core team have had a number of conversations at various points about 
formalizing things a bit more, including with the Foundation's legal support, 
but the obvious questions arise: how to facilitate work on open source without 
overly constraining it, etc.

Robert N M Watson
Computer Laboratory
University of Cambridge

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