A patent expert has attacked the Open Source Community’s latest initiative to document the provenance of code contributed to the Linux kernel so that proving its origins will be quicker and easier in the face of litigation. The Developer’s Certificate of Origin 1.0 asserts that the developer submitting the code which it covers has either written or modified that code according to their rights to do so, or it is being submitted, unchanged, on behalf of someone else who asserts these rights.
Linux certificate puts kernel developers in impossible position
Submitted by Matt 2004-06-07 Legal 14 Comments
I had thought the ‘certification’ process meant that a developer simply certified they themselves wrote the code they are submitting, or are allowed to submit the code for another party – not that it is guaranteed to be free of patents.
I’m not sure anyone can certify that except a court of law. Look at RIM w/ their Blackberry right now – I’m sure they would have ‘certified’ themselves that their product was free of others patents, and perhaps it is. That doesn’t stop the lawsuit by another party though.
1) Linus has always required people supplying patchs to certify that the code is their’s to give. The new requirements only change the tracking. ie: I write a patch and submit it to a maintainer, he modifies it and passes it to Linus for inclusion; in the old system the maintainer’s name would be on the patch, however, now both names will appear.
2) No one ever checks their code for patent issues. A programmer that researches patents can’t program. ie: I’m writing a data compression program; I look up several patents to make sure I don’t have any issues; later while trying to improve my program, I might use a patented process. In programming a program must look at a problem and think of a way to solve it, most solutions are based on previous solutions the program has worked with; if he’s looked at too many patents, then he might base his work on a patented solution without noticing.
3) There is a penitly for lying on the certification! Please take some code from SCO Unixware and submitted it to Linus as a patch; Linus will accept it on your word that it’s clean. When SCO notices the code and sues Linus, the first thing that Linus is going to do is say that the code came from you and thus you’ll have to pay all the damages.
I agree with you, but I guess something got to be done preventing “evil minds” from poisoning the well.
Theres a hell outta there..
I think the ‘patent expert’ just missed the point of the certification process entirely. But give him a break, he’s only a patent expert.
This process is not about patents at all, so it’s stupid to discuss it.
As far as copyrights go, it’s difficult to take close source software and put it into open source (because the source isn’t available). Plus it would be easy to detect because everyone has access to the source.
There are no examples of close source code being put into open source. On the other hand, there are plenty of examples where GPL software was improperly included into close source… Based on statistics close source is far more prone to copyright violation.
The writer of this article shoudl really be complaining about the patent situation. The problem is that a developer can infringe a patent without knowing it. How do you guard against that?
The certification basically makes accountability more official, however, by looking at commits and so on, it would be clear who contributed code anyway. Its just to cover Linux’s back that;’s all.
I wonder how its proven that IP rights were violated. I wonder why some BSD copyrights were stripped. I’m sure the reply will be people should have no rights if they make software.
Atleast the linux kernel people see theres a need to help prevent this. Good Job.
The FSF requires that you assign your copyright to them. To do this you need a disclaimer of rights from your employer (or university). This is the first thing I ask for when I accept a job. If they don’t give it to me I quit. Just to make this 100% clear, before you sign an employee contract get a guarentee from your employer that they will supply you with a disclaimer of rights for all open source development not related to their business.
“he FSF requires that you assign your copyright to them. To do this you need a disclaimer of rights from your employer (or university). This is the first thing I ask for when I accept a job. I”
the hard thing is the inability to accept a few lines patches without asking them to sign up papers
This means that.
You can not say “Hi” To anybody until you pay loyalty to the person who spoke it very first time.
Now you know that why I say fuxxxxxk patent.
Software patent is very nasty.
Think about old days musicion.
They took out other composer’s music and changed it as they wanted and what
They didn’t sue the composer.
Original composer considered himself being honored.
That’s why there was so much incredible musical improvement in classical era.
Hey! fight to abandon patent.
> The FSF requires that you assign your copyright to
> them. To do this you need a disclaimer of rights
> from your employer (or university). This is the
> first thing I ask for when I accept a job. If they
> don’t give it to me I quit.
Lucky you. I have a wife and soon a kid to feed. I just can’t afford to be that strict: I can’t jeopardize the only income of my family for some ideology regarding my spare-time projects. If Open Source projects could get me and my family fed, I’d be very happy to insist on such a disclaimer; but they don’t, and I can’t.
All I can do is hope that my spare-time projects never show up on the radar of my employer, or abandon those projects (none of which has someone ready to take over). Great, huh?
Regarding software patents… in the EU, parliament elections are coming up (June 16th). If you care about software patents, make sure you inform yourself (http://swpat.ffii.org/papiere/europarl0309/cons0401/index.en.html, http://kwiki.ffii.org/ElectAct0405En) and place your vote for a party that actually represents your opinion.
This will be the parliament to vote this year whether the EU will follow in the US wake of allowing unlimited patentability of software. The current EU paper is worse than even US patent law! If you are concerned, get active, NOW!
Correction: EU election is June 13th, not 16th.
Actually the EU elections are running from June 10th – June 13th depending on what country you are in.