Re: Evolution copyright assignment: Storm in a teacup

Creating free software in this way I agree is an excellent model,
because it contributes to the creation of free software.  As I've
indicated before, I have no problem with a company wishing to profit
from their hard work.

Indeed, the creation of Evolution, along with it integration-and-support
contract/Connector business model, I think we all can agree, has
produced one of the best pieces of free software out there.   I would
wholeheartedly encourage Ximian to continue this model.

However, once we start talking about actually including Evolution as
part of the Gnome Desktop and Developer platform, the situation changes.
Presumably Miguel would know best the rationale for the creation of the
Gnome platform in the first place, but it seems to me the choice of the
GPL was no accident.  The reason for choosing the GPL instead of, say,
the BSD license is that not only does it make the software Free, but it
also protects the software from being subsumed by proprietary

This discussion has gotten to be rather hostile, and I'm very much sorry
to have launched a thread that resulting in such animosity.  I hope that
everyone can stand back for a moment and see this from the perspective
of the other side.  The Ximian hackers are trying to do something
wonderful for the community by giving us such a wonderful program, and
they feel affronted that some would suggest we reject the gift over
something seemingly so trivial.  It is perfectly reasonably, they argue,
to allow Novell to retain the copyright to the whole work in exchange
for employing so many hackers.  Indeed, to me this seems entirely

I would personally prefer not to allow my donated code to be used as
part of a proprietary project, and so I probably won't contribute code
to Evolution because of the requirement, but there are a number of
hackers out there who don't mind.  Indeed, it seems that the possibility
that contributed code would in substantial part be included in another
proprietary project is quite remote.  But it does exist, especially
considering that Novell is a for-profit company answerable to its

As it stands now, a developer can contribute to the Gnome project and be
assured that his or her code will only be used as a part of free
software (LGPL linking exception notwithstanding).  If Evolution is
included with the copyright assignment requirement as it stands today,
we have whittled away this core freedom.  True, the language of the
assignment form very much mitigates the issue, but it is still not as
good as either not assigning copyright or assigning copyright to an
organization such as the FSF (which is a privately held non-profit).

A number of solutions exist as I see it:  The simplest is to not include
Evolution as part of the Gnome Desktop.  Another is to not require
copyright assignment in the version of Evolution included with Gnome.
Another is for Novell to use this new assignment method being developed
by the FSF.

Note that not including Evolution probably won't do much to reduce
Evolution's deployment; practically everyone will continue to use it.
Ximian can continue the proprietary/GPL hybrid business model, the Gnome
project has retained a core freedom, and an excellent piece of free
software can continue to thrive.


On Fri, 2004-08-06 at 18:22 -0400, Miguel de Icaza wrote:
> Hello,
> > This is my opinion. I would love to see evolution inside GNOME, but not
> > this way. Not at any cost.
> Funny, Richard Stallman endorsed a way in which software is made
> available under the GPL but also offering a proprietary version of it
> for those who do not need/can get the GPL edition.  
> This was at a conference before we launched Ximian, and I can not
> remember which one it was, but it was a panel on how to build
> sustainable companies around free software.
> Miguel.
> _______________________________________________
> foundation-list mailing list
> foundation-list gnome org

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