Proposal to change Samba contribution copyright policy.

simo idra at
Thu Jul 14 06:35:48 MDT 2011

On Tue, 2011-07-12 at 14:19 -0700, Jeremy Allison wrote:
> Hi all,
> Some history. Samba has historically only accepted code
> with personal, not corporate copyright attached.
> There were a couple of good reasons for this in the past, one
> of which was that we preferred GPL enforcement decisions
> to be made by individuals, not by corporations.
> Under GPLv2, a license violator loses all rights under the
> license and these have to be reinstated by the copyright
> holders, which made controlling who those copyright holders
> were very important. People are usually much more reasonable
> than corporations :-).
> With the move to GPLv3, this is much less important than it once
> was. The GPLv3, unlike GPLv2, allows an automatic reinstatement of
> rights under the license if a violator cures the license violation
> problem within 30 days.
> Given this, I'm proposing that we modify our policy slightly
> to allow corporate owned copyright within Samba. Note I'm
> not proposing open season on corporate (C), and we'd still
> prefer to get individual copyright, or assignment to the
> Software Freedom Conservancy (as we have done in the past).
> The reason to prefer individual, or SFC owned copyright is
> for ease of relicensing components within Samba. Over time,
> we have moved certain libraries within Samba from GPL to
> LGPL, for example the tdb and talloc libraries. Re-licensing
> like this is easier if we don't have to get permission from
> a corporate legal department, but can just directly ask the
> engineers themselves, so I'd still suggest that we keep personal
> or SFC copyright for code that goes into libraries, or code that
> might be moved into a library.
> But for things like build fixes for specific platforms,
> I don't think it's necessary any more to insist on
> personal copyright, which can delay or prevent engineers
> from giving us good fixes.
> I already raised this with tridge, who told me that he
> had been meaning to raise the very same issue with me
> (just one more proof that great minds think alike :-),
> so I promised to write this email to propose it to the
> lists in general.
> Please comment and let us know what you think about
> this possibility. Samba Team members get to vote, but
> we'd be really interested in hearing from all Samba
> users to understand if this is something the community
> thinks is a good idea or not.

Jeremy I have no objections in principle, but for copyrights that cover
feature changes if companies want to retain copyright I think we should
request that they defer any decision on licensing (need to find
appropriate legal wording) to the team so that we are not constrained by
disappeared, sold or otherwise unresponsive or recalcitrant companies in
case we need to change the license of one of the components.

What do corporate contributors think ? Is that something your legal
department can swallow, do you need the team to give promises about the
kind of licenses we will consider in case changes are needed. I think we
have ever used GPLvX, LGPLvX, and public domain/extremely permissive X11
style license. And I think we can restrict ourselves to that set or


Simo Sorce
Samba Team GPL Compliance Officer <simo at>
Principal Software Engineer at Red Hat, Inc. <simo at>

More information about the samba-technical mailing list