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Re: [jfw] Contributor Agreement



Team,

I like the idea.  I could detail scope of legal risk-but to me thats to much mumbo jumbo, your suggestion is the equivalent of a online signature that does stand in court.  We have a entire team of developers that would not allow risky code in our repos (I hope).  If we had our structure correct, we would be doing risk mitigation at the commit level. Meaning someone/attorney geek - would be scrubbing our code for litigation risk. We should not be accepting any code the the main trunk that is a possible litigation risk or not clearly labeled as compatible license.  I do not think we need a attorney to tell us this how to maintain our own code or use code within our FOSS structure.  

If the project wanted to keep the signature process, it would be easier if they financed a service like Ecosign or other like service to host the signed PDF contributor agreements.  This way we can send developers a link, have them sign, and go.  

At the end of the day, we are not sure who has signed the agreement, and who at the commit level is doing the compare of signed contracts to what code is accepted in the repo.  Im guessing that we do not even have a proxy setup like this or tracking within our source. So the thoughts of getting people to agree inline with the repo and connected to the GITHUB system would be more of a safe and organized bet to keep our developers agreeing to our license structure. 
 

Gary Brooks 
garybrooks AT cloudaccess.net
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On Mon, May 12, 2014 at 10:19 AM, garyamort <garyamort AT gmail.com> wrote:
I ran across ab article on LWN recently about contributor agreements, and wanted to share it with the Joomla groups.

http://lwn.net/Articles/592503/

Basically, it discusses the various types of agreements in place, promoting the agreement used by Linux, the Developer Certificate of Originhttp://developercertificate.org/


Unlike agreements modeled after the GNU Emacs agreement, the Linux agreement doesn't require each and every developer to electronically sign some form of agreement before contributing code.

Instead, when you submit a pull request you must at the bottom of your pull request sign off on the agreement, aka:
Signed-Off-By: (real-name) (email-address)

This requires the use of version control and maintaining the full commit logs.

The primary difference between the Linux method and the GNU Emacs method is that there is no explicit "assignment of copyright".


According to the lawyers for the GNU Foundation, without an assignment of copyright it is harder to enforce intellectual property claims in court.  

I don't know if this is true or not, as I am not aware of any cases where the GNU Foundation has gone to court to enforce their licensing terms for their products in court.

I do know of MANY cases where third parties[ie not copyright holders] have successfully gone to court and enforced the terms of the GPL when it comes to linux.  So obviously it is possible - I simply don't know if it would have been easier to enforce those rights if Linux followed the GNU recommended framework.


The primary benefit of the Linux method is that they can easily accommodate "drive by patches" - ie a developer runs into a very small bug that only affects a small number of people[perhaps just the dev], submits a 3 line patch, and disappears.

Thanks to strong version control tracking - if there ever is a case brought against them for those 3 lines of code, the Linux team can:
1) Apologize
2) Remove the offending 3 lines of code
3) Suggest that if any legal action is warranted, the offended part can take it up with the individual who contributed the copyrighted code


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