(The following is sent in an email message to a potential contributor from a developer working on an FSF project. For more details see: http://www.gnu.org/prep/maintain/html_node/Legally-significant.html)
The way to assign copyright to the Foundation is to sign an assignment contract. This is what legally makes the FSF the copyright holder so that we can register the copyright on the new version. I'm assuming that you wrote these changes yourself; if other people wrote parts, we may need papers from them.
If you are employed to do programming (even at a university), or have made an agreement with your employer or school saying it owns programs you write, then you and we need a signed piece of paper from your employer disclaiming rights to the program.
The disclaimer should be signed by a vice president or general manager of the company. If you can't get at them, anyone else authorized to license software produced there will do. Here is a sample wording:
Digital Stimulation Corporation hereby disclaims all copyright interest in the changes and enhancements made by Hugh Heffner to the program "seduce," also including any future revisions of these changes and enhancements.
Digital Stimulation Corporation affirms that it has no other intellectual property interest that would undermine this release, or the use of the Program, and will do nothing to undermine it in the future.
(If your employer says they do have an intellectual property claim that could conflict with the use of the program, then please put me in touch with a suitable representative of the company, so that we can negotiate what to do about it.)
IMPORTANT: When you talk to your employer, *no matter what instructions they have given you*, don't fail to show them the sample disclaimer above, or a disclaimer with the details filled in for your specific case. Companies are usually willing to sign a disclaimer without any fuss. If you make your request less specific, you may open Pandora's box and cause a long and unnecessary delay.
Don't forget to put down the date when you sign! Spell out the month name--don't use a number for the month. Dates using a number for the month are ambiguous; 2/8/95 means one thing in the US and another in Europe.
For good and valuable consideration, receipt of which I acknowledge, I, NAME OF PERSON, hereby transfer to the Free Software Foundation, Inc. (the "Foundation") my entire right, title, and interest (including all rights under copyright) in my changes and enhancements to the program NAME OF PROGRAM, subject to the conditions below. These changes and enhancements are herein called the "Work." The work hereby assigned shall also include any future revisions of these changes and enhancements hereafter made by me.
Upon thirty days' prior written notice, the Foundation agrees to grant me non-exclusive rights to use the Work (i.e. my changes and enhancements, not the program which I enhanced) as I see fit; (and the Foundation's rights shall otherwise continue unchanged).
The Foundation promises that all distribution of the Work, or of any work "based on the Work," that takes place under the control of the Foundation or its assignees, shall be on terms that explicitly and perpetually permit anyone possessing a copy of the work to which the terms apply, and possessing accurate notice of these terms, to redistribute copies of the work to anyone on the same terms. These terms shall not restrict which members of the public copies may be distributed to. These terms shall not require a member of the public to pay any royalty to the Foundation or to anyone else for any permitted use of the work they apply to, or to communicate with the Foundation or its agents in any way either when redistribution is performed or on any other occasion.
The Foundation promises that any program "based on the Work" offered to the public by the Foundation or its assignees shall be offered in the form of machine-readable source code, in addition to any other forms of the Foundation's choosing. However, the Foundation is free to choose at its convenience the media of distribution for machine-readable source code.
The Foundation promises to give or send me, upon reasonable prior notice and payment of a fee no more than twenty times the cost of the necessary materials and postage, a copy of any or all of the works "based on the Work" that it offers to the public or that it has offered within the past six months, or that it distributed for the first time within the past six months. For works that are programs, the machine-readable source code shall be included. My request shall detail whether I wish to receive all such works or specific works. My choice of works to request may affect the cost and therefore the fee.
I hereby agree that if I have or acquire hereafter any patent or interface copyright or other intellectual property interest dominating the program enhanced by the Work (or use of that program), such dominating interest will not be used to undermine the effect of this assignment, i.e. the Foundation and the general public will be licensed to use, in that program and its derivative works, without royalty or limitation, the subject matter of the dominating interest. This license provision will be binding on my heirs, assignees, or other successors to the dominating interest, as well as on me.
I hereby represent and warrant that I am the sole copyright holder for the Work and that I have the right and power to enter into this contract. I hereby indemnify and hold harmless the Foundation, its officers, employees, and agents against any and all claims, actions or damages (including attorney's reasonable fees) asserted by or paid to any party on account of a breach or alleged breach of the foregoing warranty. I make no other express or implied warranty (including without limitation, in this disclaimer of warranty, any warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE).
[For the copyright registration, what country are you a citizen of......? What year were you born? Please write the information here; sending it separately (e.g. in a message) makes extra clerical work for us.]