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CLAs for patch contributors? (was: Re: question on headers)

From: Stefan Sperling <stsp_at_elego.de>
Date: Tue, 7 Jul 2009 12:59:39 +0100

On Tue, Jul 07, 2009 at 03:17:41PM +0800, Edmund Wong wrote:
> >>>
> >>> http://subversion.org/legal/individual-cla.html
> >>> http://subversion.org/legal/corporate-cla.txt
> >> Does this also apply to patches?
> >
> > I'm not a lawyer, but my sense is that any patch over N lines would
> > require this, where N is probably a small number like 5.
> >
>
> I would've thought that with an Open Source project such as
> SVN, the contributions would by default belong to the project
> and no one else? Or am I confusing this with some other
> license/theory?

I guess that, in theory, any license sitting beyond a BSD-like one
on the "I don't care" scale will require some amount of paperwork.

But I don't think we require CLAs from patch contributors.
We require CLAs from committers, which as far as I understand is
similar to what the ASF (Apache Software Foundation) and the FSF
(Free Software Foundation) are doing, more or less.

The reasons behind why we require this have to do with the Subversion
Corporation (non-profit), Subversion's various copyright holders
(some corporate, some private individuals), the possibility of
Subversion switching to a standard free software license some time
in the future, and the (small!) possibility of someone who contributed
some code having a huge problem with this (so huge that they'll sue),
and the quirky US patent/copyright law being centered around self-interest
rather than the greater good (even more so than its European equivalent
which isn't exactly great either, but I digress :)

So, well, yeah, very boring stuff. It's really a theoretical problem,
until it happens (which I doubt, but IANAL).

I'd say just submit code, and when you'll have to sign a CLA, someone
(most likely Ben-Collins Sussman) will explicitly ask you to sign it
in a mail directly addressed to you.

But before that happens, don't bother with this. Just write code.

We take it for granted that patch contributions are done in good faith,
and that the contributor won't mind us changing the license at any time
in the future (e.g. to Apache v2).

Stefan
Received on 2009-07-07 14:00:43 CEST

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