[OpenAFS] On contributor agreements

Derrick Brashear shadow@gmail.com
Fri, 5 Sep 2008 11:59:49 -0400

On Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 11:51 AM, Simon Wilkinson <sxw@inf.ed.ac.uk> wrote:
>>> So, 2 questions for the community would be,
>>> 1) would you find a contributor agreement tenable (and what would make
>>> it not tenable for either you or your employer)
> I think the key issue, as others have said, is what is contained within the
> contributor agreement.
> If the agreement just contains a statement that you are entitled to release
> the code you are contributing, and similar language (see, for example, the
> Mozilla CLA) then I can't see it being a real problem.
> In my opinion, the issues arrive if the contributor license is structured to
> allow the Foundation to perform any kind of relicensing. This requires
> contributors to place a significant level of trust in the Foundation, now
> and in the future, to only relicense code in a manner which is acceptable to
> the community. In particular, there is the danger that the Foundation could
> sell code which has been contributed to it in this way to commercial third
> parties, without the permission of the original contributors. I'm sure
> nobody involved in the Foundation has any intention of this at present, but
> it is a concern for the future.
While I personally would like to see it easier to relicense the
codebase to BSD, I believe this is not realistic as it would
require all contributors to agree or have their contributions
discarded and reimplemented... and more importantly I don't think
there's much danger of IBM's lawyers vetting and agreeing to it. Given
that there's no real advantage to doing anything else, and the
advantage here would only be if it somehow made Linux kernel inclusion
somehow palatable in the future (and assuming kAFS doesn't fill this
void in the meantime) my own position would be there's no compelling
need to allow relicensing in an agreement.

> Providing the contributor agreement itself is acceptable, I don't think
> there would be any issue with requiring agreement to it as a condition of
> foundation membership. It's not currently clear to me what relationship
> there is between foundation membership and code contribution. Obviously, you
> would want all contributors to agree to the contributor agreement - but
> would all contributors be required to join the foundation?

I don't see the benefit in that, and it could deter some contributors.

speaking for Derrick in this case