Gentoo Archives: gentoo-dev-announce

From: Rich Freeman <rich0@g.o>
To: gentoo-dev-announce@l.g.o
Cc: gentoo-nfp <gentoo-nfp@l.g.o>
Subject: [gentoo-dev-announce] Soliciting Feedback: Gentoo Copyright Assignments / Licensing
Date: Mon, 17 Dec 2012 21:03:43
1 Announcing once to -dev-announce due to the general importance of this
2 topic to the community, but ALL replies should go to -nfp, or to
3 trustees@ if you must, or to /dev/null if you shouldn't.
5 Before I start, yes, the trustees realize that there are legal issues
6 around copyright assignment in general, and that various workaround
7 exist and may or may not work, such as various contributor licensing
8 agreements that are used by various organizations, especially in
9 Europe. The purpose of this thread isn't really to debate this topic,
10 as it might be moot in any case.
12 The question we would like to get feedback from the Gentoo community
13 on is this: is copyright assignment (or something like it) something
14 Gentoo should even be pursuing, and if so, to what degree? Should we
15 turn away contributions where assignments are not made? Should we aim
16 for a voluntary but encouraged approach as used by KDE e.V.? Should
17 we pursue this for some Gentoo projects but not others (such as for
18 portage (the package manager), and perhaps eclass code, but not
19 ebuilds)?
21 Set aside the mechanics of how this would be accomplished for now. I
22 don't think that this is likely to be the source of any great
23 controversy, though if we pursue this we will no doubt solicit
24 comments on any proposals. Likewise, set aside any issues pertaining
25 to history of what the status quo actually is. The larger issue is
26 where Gentoo wants to be with regard to "ownership" (or whatever the
27 appropriate term is) of its code. Where we are going is more
28 important than how we get there.
30 The main arguments for owning copyright of something would be:
31 1. Legal simplicity
32 2. Ability to re-license (obviously in accordance with the social
33 contract, and this could even be enforced with a model like the FSFe's
34 FLA)
35 3. Standing to pursue copyleft license violations
37 The main arguments for not owning copyright of something would be:
38 1. Some potential contributors might refuse to contribute
39 2. Ability to merge license-compatible code without needing the
40 cooperation of its author
42 There are numerous details to be worked out either way, and we don't
43 need to settle those in advance.
45 Feedback from any member of the Gentoo community (loosely defined) is
46 welcome. If anybody has STRONG feelings on this matter, please be
47 sure to voice them either in public or in private, as I can't
48 guarantee that there will be another opportunity to do so.
50 For those wondering where this is going: Right now the Foundation is
51 soliciting info from other organizations and will be soliciting legal
52 advice regarding how we might implement whatever course of action we
53 choose to take. If community consensus seems to be obvious in the
54 replies to this email we may very well form concrete proposals and put
55 them out for comment before enacting new policy. If consensus is not
56 clear we may seek further input in the form of binding or non-binding
57 votes from the Foundation membership. Obviously our goal isn't to
58 stir up a hornet's nest, so assume that the Trustees will use
59 reasonable discretion.
61 For the Trustees (who are welcome to chime in with any
62 questions/nuances I missed),
64 Richard Freeman