Wodin wrote:I have heard the argument that Linus could in fact change the license of the Linux kernel without necessarily contacting every single developer who has ever contributed code to the kernel. I can't remember where I read that article, though. As far as I remember the author said something like Linus would have to announce the intention to change the license and then give copyright holders the chance to object. For the ones that object, obviously the code would have to be ripped out and rewritten. For ones that just never responded, you could act as if they had said yes.
I am not a lawyer, though, so I'm not sure how true that is.
Hmmm... I would definitely want to talk with a lawyer about that. There may be standard procedures for some of that, but everything I have read about copyright law says that it's a really big PITA to clear copyright when you have lots of people involved. And even a small copyright holder can throw a wrench in the gears.
If you're interested in this sort of thing, check out Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture
. Very highly recommended. It goes through all the problems with copyright law. The Creative Commons was created by Lessig to help deal with some of the problems he sees in the laws. Ideally, we'd change the laws, but as the book lays out, there are powerful industries that don't want to see that happen (the RIAA, MPAA, Disney, etc.). To be honest, I don't blame them. When your whole company is based on the original copyright to Mickey Mouse, you would not be doing your fiduciary duty to your shareholders if you let that unravel. That said, the current laws are pretty much unworkable. Everything
these days is automatically copyrighted for the lifetime of the author plus something like 75 years. That means that essentially every created work is off limits "forever" unless the author explicitly says otherwise. Consequently, there are a lot of works that are not currently being used that could be reused, reissued, reprinted, etc., but the author can't be found to give permission to do so. Lessig makes the point that in the culture by its nature builds on top of culture and if we make all this raw material "off limits," the culture of the future will be very sterile, without any continuity, because it will have to be created afresh each time with few inputs from the past.
Anyway, I didn't mean to go sideways in this thread. If you're interested in copyright and these issues, check out the book.