Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Re: Please, consider reflecting on the Canonical Contributor Agreement

[Please don't cross-post to lots of lists, folks!]

Stephen, thank you for helping ground the conversation with quotes etc. I think you've demonstrated that CLAs are quite defensible in terms of the GPL.

But I hear a larger question, framed in the actual subject line - to *consider reflecting on* the Canonical CLA.
I.e. what are the benefits to Canonical, to you, to contributors, to the whole ecosystem, to humanity ("Ubuntu philosophy") of a CLA?

I've heard two very helpful perspectives on this over the years.

The first, from 2011, was from Mark, on why giving more leverage, via CLAs, to projects and companies in general is helpful to the whole ecosystem:

Mark Shuttleworth on companies and free software [LWN.net] https://lwn.net/Articles/442782/

This summer, Simon Phipps nicely framed a different view tuned to the trends of frictionless distributed development that he calls "Permissionless governance":

Governance for the GitHub generation | InfoWorld
http://www.infoworld.com/article/2608195/open-source-software/governance-for-the-github-generation.html

I highly recommend both reads. Perhaps the two models may make sense in different circumstances, e.g. with CLAs for polished application code, and permissionless governance for more infrastructure-related software.

Of course the nice thing about free software and open source software is that we each benefit, and we each get to choose how to participate.
And our choices can reflect our own perspectives, enriched by the perspectives of others.

Happy new year, all :)

Neal McBurnett http://neal.mcburnett.org/

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