Gentoo Archives: gentoo-dev-announce

From: Ulrich Mueller <ulm@g.o>
To: gentoo-dev-announce@l.g.o, gentoo-project@l.g.o
Subject: [gentoo-dev-announce] [RFC] GLEP 76: Copyright Policy
Date: Sun, 10 Jun 2018 21:18:00
1 Hello everybody,
3 Please find below the draft of a new copyright policy, which was in
4 the making since 2013 at least. After several iterations, we have come
5 up with a policy with the following key elements:
7 - Gentoo projects must release their work under GPL-compatible free
8 software licenses, preferably under GPL-2 or later. CC-BY-SA-3.0
9 (or 4.0) can be used for documentation.
11 - All commits to Gentoo repositories must be accompanied by a
12 certificate of origin. Typically, this would be declared by adding
13 a "Signed-off-by:" line (or several of them) to every commit.
14 This model is very similar to the one used for development of the
15 Linux kernel.
17 - The copyright notice, especially for ebuilds, will contain the
18 name of the largest contributor, plus an "and others" clause when
19 necessary. (So the "Copyright Gentoo Foundation" lines will be
20 phased out.)
22 The original second part of the policy, namely to encourage developers
23 to license their contributions to the Gentoo Foundation (e.g., using
24 the FSFE's Fiduciary License Agreement), has been dropped, at least
25 for the time being.
27 We have chosen to publish this as GLEP 76, because we have a defined
28 workflow for GLEPs. However, the approval process will be somewhat
29 different, because both trustees and council are involved with it
30 (see combined trustees and council meeting on 2018-01-20 [1]).
32 The reStructuredText source of the GLEP can be found at [2] and its
33 rendered version is at [3]. For reference, the full text is also
34 included below.
36 Ulrich
38 [1]
39 [2] ReST:
40 [3] HTML:
43 ---
44 GLEP: 76
45 Title: Copyright Policy
46 Author: Richard Freeman <rich0@g.o>,
47 Alice Ferrazzi <alicef@g.o>,
48 Ulrich Müller <ulm@g.o>,
49 Robin H. Johnson <robbat2@g.o>,
50 Michał Górny <mgorny@g.o>
51 Type: Informational
52 Status: Draft
53 Version: 1
54 Created: 2013-04-23
55 Last-Modified: 2018-06-10
56 Post-History: 2018-06-10
57 Content-Type: text/x-rst
58 ---
61 Status
62 ======
64 The policies on this page have no effect! These are draft policies up
65 for discussion, not final versions.
68 Abstract
69 ========
71 This GLEP introduces a copyright and licensing policy for Gentoo
72 projects. It requires all contributions of software or documentation
73 to be released under a free license, and to be accompanied by a
74 certificate of origin.
77 Motivation
78 ==========
80 The copyright ownership of Gentoo materials is ambiguous due to
81 historical factors, and this GLEP attempts to improve the process
82 going forward.
84 In the beginning (2000 or earlier), the copyright header stated that
85 *Gentoo Technologies, Inc.* was the copyright holder, without any
86 formal paperwork. The formal assignment document was however only
87 introduced in early 2004. The assignment had many objectors (mostly
88 on the ``gentoo-core`` mailing list). The developer recruiting
89 procedures attempted to require signing of the document as a condition
90 for becoming a developer, but it was not applied to pre-existing
91 developers, or those that objected.
93 Later, the *Gentoo Foundation* was established, and copyrights were
94 formally transferred (including nullifying original developer
95 assignments to *Gentoo Technologies, Inc.*), and the copyright header
96 was updated. The formal assignment document text was updated in 2006,
97 but the formal assignment process had already been abandoned in
98 mid-2004.
100 Throughout this, the presence of copyright headers existed as a
101 policy, and continues to exist to this day. Some files also still
102 contain or have in the past contained additional copyright headers,
103 attributing ownership to other parties.
105 The policy to have copyright notices ascribing copyright ownership to
106 the Gentoo Foundation caused an issue when Gentoo developers forked
107 another project and hosted the fork on Gentoo infrastructure. To
108 comply with the previous policy the copyright notices were modified,
109 which caused concerns with the project the files were forked from.
110 Our previous policy completely neglected the possibility that Gentoo
111 might want to host files that were not created internally.
113 Finally, since the early days of Gentoo new ideas around copyright
114 licensing have become more popular, such as the FSFE's Fiduciary
115 License Agreement [#FLA]_, which takes a copyleft approach to
116 copyright licensing, while also better complying with copyright laws
117 in nations that have author's rights.
119 The goal here was to create a policy that was flexible enough to cover
120 forks and situations where Gentoo would not own the majority of the
121 copyright in a file.
124 Specification
125 =============
127 Purpose / Scope
128 ---------------
130 This policy documents how Gentoo contributors comply and document
131 copyright for any contributions made to Gentoo. Anyone committing
132 documentation or sources to any repository hosted on Gentoo
133 infrastructure or to any official Gentoo project (independently
134 of hosting) must comply with this policy. Unofficial Gentoo projects
135 are also recommended to use this policy.
137 Questions regarding this policy should be directed to the trustees or
138 the -project list. Any concerns over possible copyright violations
139 should be directed to the Trustees if they cannot be worked out to
140 anyone's satisfaction with the appropriate maintainer.
143 Licensing of Gentoo Projects
144 ----------------------------
146 Every Gentoo project must abide by the Gentoo Social Contract
147 [#SOCIAL-CONTRACT]_ and release its work under one or more of the
148 following:
150 a) The GNU General Public License, version 2 or later (GPL-2+)
151 [#GPL-2]_.
153 b) The Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License
154 (CC-BY-SA-3.0, only for documentation) [#CC-BY-SA-3.0]_.
155 *[Note: or version 4.0, to be decided]*
157 c) A license approved as GPL compatible by the Free Software
158 Foundation [#GPL-COMPAT]_.
160 Exceptions for other free software licenses will be granted by the
161 Gentoo Foundation on a case by case basis.
163 For easy reference, the license for each project should be documented
164 on the wiki page at [#PROJECTS]_.
167 Certificate of Origin
168 ---------------------
170 All commits to Gentoo project repositories shall be accompanied by a
171 certificate of origin. The purpose of the certificate is to declare
172 that the contribution can be modified and redistributed in accordance
173 with the project's license.
175 For commits made using a VCS, the committer shall certify agreement
176 to the Gentoo DCO by adding ``Signed-off-by: Name <e-mail>`` to the
177 commit message as a separate line. Committers must use their real
178 name, i.e., the name that would appear in an official document like
179 a passport.
181 The following is the current Gentoo DCO::
183 Gentoo Developer's Certificate of Origin, revision 1
185 By making a contribution to this project, I certify that:
187 (1) The contribution was created in whole or in part by me, and I have
188 the right to submit it under the free software license indicated
189 in the file; or
191 (2) The contribution is based upon previous work that, to the best
192 of my knowledge, is covered under an appropriate free software
193 license, and I have the right under that license to submit that
194 work with modifications, whether created in whole or in part by
195 me, under the same free software license (unless I am permitted
196 to submit under a different license), as indicated in the file; or
198 (3) The contribution is a license text (or a file of similar nature),
199 and verbatim distribution is allowed; or
201 (4) The contribution was provided directly to me by some other person
202 who certified (1), (2), (3), or (4), and I have not modified it.
204 I understand and agree that this project and the contribution are
205 public and that a record of the contribution (including all personal
206 information I submit with it, including my sign-off) is maintained
207 indefinitely and may be redistributed consistent with this project or
208 the free software license(s) involved.
210 The Gentoo DCO is licensed under a Creative Commons
211 Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License [#CC-BY-SA-3.0]_.
212 It is based on the Linux Kernel DCO [#OSDL-DCO]_, released by Open
213 Source Development Labs, Inc. in 2005 under a CC-BY-SA-2.5 License.
216 Copyright Attribution
217 ---------------------
219 All files included in Gentoo projects must contain an appropriate
220 copyright notice, as defined by this policy.
222 A proper copyright notice appears near the top of the file, and reads::
226 The largest contributor is whatever entity owns copyright to some
227 portion of the largest number of lines in the file. Additional
228 contributors can be listed, but this is neither required nor
229 recommended. The "and others" text may be omitted if the explicitly
230 listed contributors hold copyright to the entire file.
232 Anyone finding a file out of compliance should file a bug against the
233 associated project/package providing as much information as possible.
234 Files that are not brought into compliance within 60 days or upon a
235 request for removal by a aggrieved copyright holder will be removed.
236 Any concerns not addressed by a maintainer can be appealed to the
237 Trustees.
240 Rationale
241 =========
243 Policy
244 ------
246 This document aims to provide a single consistent copyright policy for
247 all Gentoo projects. It is explicitly enforced for all official Gentoo
248 projects in order to protect the interests of Gentoo as a whole,
249 including its contributors, developers and users. Additionally, it is
250 enforced for all other projects hosted on Gentoo infrastructure in order
251 to protect the Gentoo infrastructure owners and improve consistency.
253 The copyright model is built on the DCO model used by the Linux kernel
254 and requires all contributors to certify the legitimacy of their
255 contributions. This also requires that they use their real name for
256 signing; an anonymous certification or one under a pseudonym would not
257 mean anything.
259 In the future, a second stage of this policy may use a combination of
260 the DCO model and an FLA model [#FLA]_ as it is used by different open
261 source projects. Contributors would be able to freely choose whether
262 they sign the FLA document or not.
265 Licensing of Projects
266 ---------------------
268 The Social Contract mentions GPL-2 and CC-BY-SA-2.0, both with the
269 option to use them in a later version ("at our discretion"). In order
270 to facilitate interchange of software between different projects, we
271 aim for uniformity of their licensing. Therefore, items a) and b)
272 explicitly recommend the use of GPL-2+ and CC-BY-SA-3.0. The latter
273 is restricted to be used for documentation, because Creative Commons
274 themselves recommend against using their licenses for software
275 [#CC-SOFTWARE]_.
277 Other GPL-compatible free software licenses that are not explicitly
278 listed are allowed by item c). This covers cases where compatibility
279 to licenses used by upstream projects is necessary. (For example,
280 the Gentoo BSD project may want to use the 2-clause or 3-clause BSD
281 license).
283 By default, GPL-incompatible licenses (e.g., the CDDL) are not
284 allowed, because their use would hinder interchange of code between
285 Gentoo projects. However, the Foundation can grant exceptions to
286 this, as long as the license in question is a free software or open
287 source license.
290 DCO Changes
291 -----------
293 The Gentoo DCO rev. 1 has been based on Linux Kernel DCO 1.1
294 [#OSDL-DCO]_. It features the following modifications from
295 the original:
297 1. The enumeration has been modified to use numeric points.
299 2. Additional point (3) has been inserted::
301 (3) The contribution is a license text (or a file of similar nature),
302 and verbatim distribution is allowed; or
304 3. The original point (c) has shifted to become point (4), and has been
305 updated to account for the additional point (3).
307 4. The original point (d) has been transformed into a stand-alone
308 paragraph following the enumeration.
310 5. The term "open source" has been replaced by "free software"
311 throughout.
313 The new point was deemed necessary to allow committing license files
314 into the Gentoo repository, since those files usually do not permit
315 modification. It has been established that adding a clear provision
316 for this case is better than excluding those commits from DCO
317 compliance. Debian was facing a similar problem [#DEBIAN-LICENSE]_.
319 The update of point (c) was necessary to allow the new clause being
320 certified by the person providing the contribution.
322 The term "free software" is used for consistency with the language
323 of the Gentoo Social Contract [#SOCIAL-CONTRACT]_.
325 The remaining changes were merely editorial. It has been established
326 that the last point is really separate from the other points, so it is
327 more appropriate to separate it from the enumeration by putting it
328 in a separate paragraph.
331 Acknowledgements
332 ================
334 Many people have participated in invaluable discussions on this GLEP.
335 In particular, the authors would like to thank David Abbott,
336 Roy Bamford, Kristian Fiskerstrand, Andreas K. Hüttel, Matija Šuklje,
337 Matthew Thode, and Alec Warner for their input.
340 References
341 ==========
343 .. [#SOCIAL-CONTRACT] Gentoo Social Contract,
346 .. [#GPL-2] GNU General Public License, version 2 or later,
349 .. [#CC-BY-SA-3.0] Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
350 Unported License,
352 .. [#GPL-COMPAT] GPL-compatible free software licenses,
355 .. [#PROJECTS] Licensing of Gentoo projects,
358 .. [#OSDL-DCO] Developer's Certificate of Origin 1.1,
361 .. [#FLA] FSFE Legal: Fiduciary Licence Agreement (FLA),
364 .. [#CC-SOFTWARE] Can I apply a Creative Commons license to software?
367 .. [#DEBIAN-LICENSE] [debian-legal] License of the GPL license,
371 Copyright
372 =========
374 This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
375 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit


Subject Author
[gentoo-dev-announce] [RFC] GLEP 76: Copyright Policy [v2] Ulrich Mueller <ulm@g.o>