Sunday, 4 January 2015

Re: [Ubuntu-bugcontrol] Please, consider reflecting on the Canonical Contributor Agreement

On 2015-01-04 08:27 PM, Michael Hall wrote:
> On 01/04/2015 07:40 PM, Stephen M. Webb wrote:
>> On 01/04/2015 06:44 PM, Scott Kitterman wrote:
>>>> So you think your 100 line patch should give you the same rights as the
>>>>> copyright holder of the 200k line project? Honestly, this argument is
>>>>> completely ridiculous.
>>> I think I should have the same rights over my 100 lines. Personally, I find
>>> the argument that because someone else has made a greater contribution, they
>>> get control over my work to be ridiculous (I didn't sign any CLAs either).
>> You do have the same rights over your 100 lines. You can always take your 100 lines and license it to whomever you
>> want under whatever terms tickle your fancy. Canonical could take their 200k lines and do the same. That's the right
>> copyright grants you, the CLA never takes that away and the GPL is irrelevant to that.
>> If your 100 line contribution is included in the project and you do not give permission for Canonical to exercise its
>> rights over its 200k lines, you have denied Canonical their rights and you have established (potentially malicious)
>> control over their work.
> No, Canonical still retains all rights over it's 200k lines, all that we
> would be prevented from doing is exercising those same rights over the
> additional 100 lines of code that we did not write.

Right, but 100 lines quickly turns into 2k lines by 20 different contributors
you now have to track down or replace.

>> Canonical would either need to expend resource removing the controlling code or replacing it
>> with some clean-room reimplementation in order to exercise their rights once more. An up-front CLA is just easier; you
>> either agree to it or you do not get your contribution accepted. Everybody knows where they stand from the start,
>> everyone is treated equally and without prejudice, and no one loses any defined rights.
> Projects without a CLA don't often have difficulty knowing where each
> contributor stands. Given the massive number of open source projects in
> existence, I could name on one hand the number that have had an issue
> like this.

Projects don't often re-license. When they do, it's because they did have a CLA,
_have_ managed to track down every single contributor, or they simply rely on
the copyright statement on the top of the source file, which is legally pretty

As I've said earlier in this thread, if you're a billion dollar company, you can
assume the risk yourself. If you're not, you'd be crazy to bet the farm on code
contributions you don't have a copyright assignment/CLA for.


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