A side effect of voluntary removal Linus Torvalds who got licensed by Linux to think about how he treats people and the upcoming Linux Code of Conduct (CoC) is the following question:
The controversy started when someone with the nickname "unconditionalwitness" - who had never posted on LKML (from the Linux Kernel Mailing List Archive) wrote that people who were forced to leave the Linux Kernel community because of the CoC could "request that their property be subsidized by a written notice to those using the code as their property." ”
If you are concerned, no one has been forced to leave the community until today, and there is no sign that this is going to happen because of the CoC. But there are some people who are worried about what happens if developers are removed from the Linux community.
As soon as the code is granted, the Linux community thinks logically that the developer will not hurt Linux, asking for the right to use the code.
Ο unconditionalwitness, who claims to be a lawyer, does not seem to be a subscriber of the Linux kernel. The e-mail account he uses comes from an anonymous mail server. So basically we're talking about an anonymous who just threw a bomb. Many Linux developers threatened him, but his argument shattered the puddle waters (in terms of ownership of the code) of the community.
Eric S. Raymond, one of the open source creators, wrote his own message to LKML:
"This threat makes sense. I searched for the relevant law when I founded the Open Source initiative, which confirms that reputational damage associated with converting a contributor's rights into a GPL project is legal. ”
Richard M. Stallman, who is the author of the GPLv2 license - the open source license that governs Linux, replied:
“Linux developers or any freeware program can remove any code at any time without giving any reason. However, this does not oblige others to delete their code from their own versions of a program. "
While both have made a significant contribution to the creation of free software, open source and Linux license, they are not lawyers.
On instructions from the GPL by the Free Software Foundation (FSF), the Open Source Legal Advisor and the Columbia Eben Moglen Professor of Law, said:
In order to ensure that all our intellectual property rights can satisfy registrations and other registration requirements, and in order to be able to enforce the GPL in the most effective way, the FSF requires each author of code participating in the FSF projects to provides copyright disposal and, where appropriate, disclaims any claim of property for paid employment by the developer's employer.
Linux, however, does not require its contributors to sign an assignment of intellectual property rights.
Karen Sandler, a lawyer and CEO of Software Freedom Conservancy, said: “There is no effective way to revoke the code that is licensed, distributed and redistributed under the GPLv2. The copyleft is strong. ”
Heather Meeker partner of O'Melveny & Myers he says:
The legal analysis is a bit complicated, but eventually an open source license gives rights to each recipient, once the author makes the code available under the license. These rights may be enjoyed by any addressee until the recipient has breached the license and lost his or her rights.
The notion that open source licenses are arbitrarily revocable - because the license is free and therefore not so serious, or because the license is not a contract and therefore does not enjoy the benefits of dependency theory or because the author has committed an offense and is in conflict with the code of conduct or any other theory that could be constructed brings out the detail more than the substance. These arguments will not win, mainly because the courts do not like intellectual property owners to bite the apple twice.
The idea of revocability went into the 1990 decade as a FUD technique to scare people and get them away from using open source software.