Squeak license situation

Paolo Bonzini paolo.bonzini at lu.unisi.ch
Wed Nov 21 15:56:50 UTC 2007

Randal L. Schwartz wrote:
>>>>>> "Paolo" == Paolo Bonzini <bonzini at gnu.org> writes:
> Paolo> Just as a rule of thumb, the FSF does not care about copyright for
> Paolo> people who have contributed less than 10-15 lines of code.
> Does this mean "the FSF has researched the situation, and their lawyers have
> determined that the prevailing laws ignore such small contributions", or "the
> FSF has set a policy of small contributions being irrelevant"?

I don't know, but the FSF wants to be free to bump the minimum GPL 
version number (for example) without violating the contributors' 
copyright.  They have a concept of "legally significant change", which 
they describe like this.

"If a person contributes more than around 15 lines of code and/or text 
that is legally significant for copyright purposes, which means we need 
copyright papers for it as described above.

A change of just a few lines (less than 15 or so) is not legally 
significant for copyright. A regular series of repeated changes, such as 
renaming a symbol, is not legally significant even if the symbol has to 
be renamed in many places. Keep in mind, however, that a series of minor 
changes by the same person can add up to a significant contribution. 
What counts is the total contribution of the person; it is irrelevant 
which parts of it were contributed when."

I can ask the FSF guys how they came up with this rule.  Maybe there is 
a precedent somewhere, but IANAL and not even an American.


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