synaptics driver MIT license approach

Hal V. Engel hvengel at
Tue May 8 13:44:03 PDT 2007

On Tuesday 08 May 2007 13:05, Yan Seiner wrote:
> Daniel Stone wrote:
> > On Tue, May 08, 2007 at 11:08:25AM -0700, Yan Seiner wrote:
> >> Isn't there some kind of 'quiet title' provision in the license?  Seems
> >> to me that this sort of thing should be handled.  Say you attempt to
> >> contact the author, his/her last known employer, post on mailing lists
> >> s/he used to frequent, and if you don't get a response for say 6 months
> >> the license can be changed?
> >>
> >> Just mulling out loud....
> >
> > No, because that's absolutely insane.
> >
> > 'We tried contacting you to relicense your GPL code to BSD, but
> > couldn't, so we just put it in our proprietary app.  Cheers!'
> >
> > Copyright passes to the estate if someone dies, so you can convince the
> > executioner to do as you like.  But if you simply can't find the person,
> > or they don't want to talk to you -- bad luck.
> Not really insane; that's how real estate is handled.  If you have a
> piece of land where ownership cannot be determined, or where the owner
> has died/disappeared and cannot be located, there is a legal framework
> in place for clearing title for the land.  Otherwise the landscape would
> be dotted with parcels you couldn't anything with....

The case of not being able to determine who owns a piece of real estate in the 
US is very rare now days but that might not be the case in other counties.    
What normally happens in the US is that the taxes on the land are not paid if 
the deceased person has no familiy or someone handling the estate and 
eventually the governement entity that collects those taxes (normally the 
local county governement) steps in and sells the property in order to collect 
those taxes.  This usually takes a few years after the owner dies or 
disapears (5 to 10 years).  No similar thing exists for copyrights since 
there are no taxes on the copyright itself like there is on real estate.   In 
addition real estate is forever and copyrights have a limited life.

> All I'm asking is if there is a similar provision in the GPL and other
> FOSS licenses, and if not, shouldn't there be?  Otherwise perfectly good
> code will be thrown out because the owner couldn't be located.
> --Yan
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