[thelist] Copyright ownership under LGPL

Stephen Rider evolt_org at striderweb.com
Thu Jun 17 10:15:56 CDT 2004

This client is asking you to reinvent the wheel.  He's saying "I want 
you to build something that goes under my car and holds it up, and 
allows it to move smoothly along the ground, but you're not allowed to 
use wheels or treads or the like because someone else has already 
invented that -- you need to come up with something entirely new."  
This is nonsense.

The problem is that the methods already created are extremely efficient 
because of development time (millennia in the case of the wheel, 
decades in the case of software).  Somewhere along the line you are 
going to use a similar methodology to something that you would use in 
someone else's work, simply because it's a good way to accomplish the 
task, and then this guy would maybe then sue you for breach of 

I would not take the job unless he lightened up in the "full control of 

For that matter, I agree that you _have_ to use elements that have been 
used before, because that's how web browsers work.  The web is unlike 
any other software really, because you are coding to work with an 
interface over which you have no control -- the browser.  Actually, 
many browsers....

I would either charge him enough to support you for the next ten years 
:) (by which point the tools we use to build websites have changed 
enough to not interfere with your contract with him) or run screaming.

Either there's _no way_ this is for a simple family website (in which 
case there's something fishy going on), or he is completely clueless 
about software copyright.

Show him the GPL and try explaining how it works -- truly nobody is 
going to sue him for copyright infringement for using Open-Source 
software.  If with that information he is willing to lighten up on his 
draconian copyright demands, go for it.  Otherwise, No Way.

On Jun 14, 2004, at 12:17 AM, David Bindel wrote:
> I have already written [software] released under the GNU Lesser
> General Public License (LGPL), but his website would require
> modifications.....

> The software I am making for him would be a heavily-modified offspring
> of my open source software, yet nevertheless, largely based on the
> original open source software.

You could sell him the copyright to the modifications, but even that I 
would not do unless he gave me a _lot_ of money (and had a sunset 
clause) since that would practically preclude you from making further 
mods on your own to the Open Source software that you already created, 
for fear of overlapping the mods you made for him.

Just my two cents. IANAL


(IANAL = "I Am Not A Lawyer")

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