Collaborative Authorship Models in Open Source
By Dashiell Renaud

Is an open source project a work of joint-authorship? a collective work? something else? This talk will cover the criteria used to determine which collaborative authorship model applies to a given work, the impact different models have on the rights of contributors, and recommendations for establishing a collaborative authorship model that serves the needs of your open source project.

Monday 3:20 p.m.–3:50 p.m.

When a work is authored collaboratively, a number of legal mechanisms can be employed to allocate copyright rights to the collaborators. These mechanisms range from acknowledging only one single person as the copyright holder to treating all collaborators as co-authors that share copyright ownership equally.

Because open source projects typically receive contributions, they constitute a form of collaborative work. And because copyright assignment has significant legal ramifications (e.g. authority to license the work, duty of accounting) these collaborative authorship mechanisms are an important topic in the field of copyleft software.

This talk will present the criteria that define authors, jointly-authored works, and collective works. We will discuss the impact of these different models on the rights and permissions of contributors, and recommendations for structuring contributions to an open source project in order to definitively establish a collaborative authorship model that serves the needs of the project.

Dashiell Renaud

Dashiell Renaud is Google LLC's lead open source compliance officer. When Dashiell is not giving talks on legal subjects in the field of open source, his day-to-day duties include M&A diligence, oversight of open source releasing, and outbound license review for Google's products and services.


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