Copyright assignment

Georg C. F. Greve greve at
Mon Jun 10 12:55:33 UTC 2002

 || On Mon, 10 Jun 2002 11:18:26 +0200
 || Loic Dachary <loic at> wrote: 

 ld> 	I'd like to get more information on this new subject. I wonder
 ld> why continental-European Authorship law implies that it is
 ld> necessary to work on a copyright assignment to the FSF
 ld> Europe. 

These are two questions phrased into one.

The different copyright traditions work sort of similar in many
aspects, but the different basis makes a big difference.

Continental Europe follows the "human right of the author to his work"
(Droit d'auteur) tradition, which is why copyright cannot be
transferred, just like you cannot transfer your right to free speech.

What you can transfer are "exclusive exploitation rights," which
economically behave like the anglo-american Copyright, but it does not
contain the "personality rights" of the author.

Normally, a transferral of "Copyright" would be understood as a
transferral of exclusive exploitation rights under continental
European law, but all doubts (that seem valid when the case goes to
court) will always be interpreted in favor of the original author.

Fuzzy statements work against the FSF in this case.

In the United States, Copyright is just a "thing" and can be bought
and sold like anything else. 

Fuzzy statements tend to work for the FSF in this case.

So it makes a lot of sense to make sure you have an assignment that
will work as well as possible under European law. 

Once the Fiduciary License Agreement of the FSF Europe is ready, it is
possible that the FSF North America will also start using it.

In terms of who you choose as your fiduciary:

Many people in Europe have already told us they wish to make the FSF
Europe the fiduciary for their interests.

Also it creates a more stable situation if the rights are upheld by
the FSF Europe and FSF North America together. How this would be done
in terms of legal structure is not yet entirely clear, but we are
thinking about the best long-term solution to do this.

Of course Europeans are free to choose the FSF North America as their
fiduciary just like North Americans are free to choose the FSF Europe.


Georg C. F. Greve                                 <greve at>
Free Software Foundation Europe	                 (
GNU Business Network                        (
Brave GNU World	                           (
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