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On Monday 01 November 2010, Andre Schnabel wrote:
If we want an answer on this (would developers not have joined if there
was a CA) we would need to ask them. This should indeed be asked
at the dev-list. I'd bet, that at least some of them would state
that they not would have joined.

I can at least say that I would most likely not have contributed if a CA had 
been required. "Most likely" means that I would have read the assignment and 
looked at the organization behind it before making the decision. If they were 
both solid and there were strong enough justification for it, I would sign. In 
this case neither the organization nor the assignment text exist yet so I 
cannot do that.

I am not a major contributor so this may not weight much in the final 
decision. But one rather large problem that I see with the assignments is that 
if they are required also from developers of external libraries then the 
assignment would also be needed from developers that may not have any interest 
in LibreOffice but may still have some common development interest with us.

Let's take Word import/export filters for example. They could (at least in 
theory, I saw the idea somewhere in the Wiki) be split to a separate library 
and shared with KOffice or someone who wanted to write a free competitor for 
Google Docs. People developing such libraries might react badly if they would 
be required to sign a CA just to get a patch in to support a product that they 
have no personal interest in. One of the strengths of free software is that we 
can work together on such things even if our own goals were totally different, 
perhaps even competing.

We could solve this by excluding all external libraries, including the 
hypothetical Word import/export library, from the CA requirement. But would 
such arrangement lose most of the benefits of CA that covered everything? My 
(perhaps incorrect) understanding of the situation is that many proprietary 
derivatives of OOo were shipped without providing any source code under the 
LGPL. If the import/export library was LGPL only then no-one could do such 
thing anymore. Not that I understand why avoiding LGPL this way is important 
for anyone, but probably the companies have their reasons.

I'm not totally against the CA. I have signed the JCA for Sun and contributed 
some small patches to OOo in a few cases where that was needed to solve some 
issue that affected only Finnish users or something similar. But after reading 
this discussion and thinking about it I do feel that there is more to win by 
not replicating that process for LibreOffice.


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