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Re: [tdf-discuss] Copyright Assignments & the Document Foundation


2010/11/1 Harri Pitkänen <hatapitk@iki.fi>:
Hi!

Hi all,

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.

The same holds for me. CA is  possibly a "necessary evil", it doesn't
make much sense
asking an unbiased opinion to developers, they don't like it in
general, of course.

TDF has to have a very clear position about it, nevertheless, for the
very good reasons Andrea already
pointed out. TDF is going to be in a much weaker position if it does
not asks a JCA or CLA or
something like that to his contributors.
Weaker regarding his position towards commercial companies, weaker in his
ability to provide support to his contributors against patent claims
or other litigations.
As a developer, i think that protection from patent claims provided by
L/GPL3 in not sufficient, I would like if TDF could be in charge in
such cases, not me.

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.

These are very good points. At the moment, anyway, all new files are
(or should be)
contributed in a Mozilla-like three-license fashion[1]. Comparing it
with the Mozilla
boilerplate [2] from which it is presumably derived, it lacks the
final part, but i think it's clear that
anyone is free to use the contribution under any one of GPLV3+, LGPV3+
or MPL license.

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.

My feelings are slightly on the other side, for the reasons i told at
start, but let's see how this interesting thread will evolve...

bye,
rob

Harri

[1] http://www.freedesktop.org/wiki/Software/LibreOffice/LicenseHeader
[2] http://www.mozilla.org/MPL/boilerplate-1.1/mpl-tri-license-c

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