Re: Candidates question: Contributor agreement

On Thu, 2011-05-26 at 12:01 +0200, Olav Vitters wrote:
> Given that we already have a policy on copyright assignments[1], I
> wondered what is your position regarding contributor agreements[2]?
> Should the board do something with contributor agreements and if so,
> what should be done?

First at all, the language is confusing because 'Contributor Agreement'
has been used as either Copyright Assignment Agreement (CAA) or
Contributor License Agreement (CLA) indistinctly.  Also, it has been
used 'as is' and make it explicitly a non-CLA and a non-CAA[3].

One of the two links you mentioned in [2], refers to CAA. However, AFAIU
project harmony is working in a template for both CLA and CAA.  So, I am
unsure which one are you referring to (or all of them).

FWIW, in there is a paper[4] explaining
the rationale behind Project Harmony, and it is also an advocacy for
CAA. I am providing this for having a wider picture and to be fair with
different positions on this matter.  So, I recommend anyone interested
in this topic to read it, too.

That said, if you ask me about Contributor Agreements as in [3], to
warranty that I have own the copyright of my contribution (hence, I will
not make any harm to the project with or without intention), I would
prefer a solution like the "Developer's Certificate of Origin" used in
Linux[5, 6, 7], which is done by using sign-off in every patch.

But if you ask me about CAA and CLA, In spite of -the already mentioned-
barrier of entry or the hassle that means signing a form (CAA, CLA, just
CA) or the ones mentioned in [8, 9] I think there are other issues that
are important to have in mind (even in Harmony):

      * It is becoming common to ask for patents grants of the code you
        are contributing, so the project/company can not be sued later
        by the you.  However, it does not happen in the opposite way.
        If, for any reason, your contribution implements something that
        has been patented by the project/company, they can sue you back.
        Notice that 'you' could be random contributor or company signing
        the form.
      * You can sign those forms only if own the copyright of your
        contribution, hence, you can not contribute the same code to 2
        different projects/companies asking for CAA.  Because, after
        signing the first CAA, the project/company is the copyrighter.
        Ironically, in the worst case, you could not contribute the same
        code to several projects under the same umbrella (as GNOME).

I do not want to write a longer email, but I think you can get an idea.
Otherwise, let me know if you need more clarifications from my part.

for-profit institutions might have their own interests, and as GNOME
Foundation we can not expect their interests will be 100% aligned with
ours. Nevertheless, the board of directors has to serve to GNOME
project, and I think for GNOME project is healthier to keep its
Copyright Assignment Policy.

> [1]
> [2] e.g. and


Germán Póo-Caamaño

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