Contributing to Samba: Samba now accepts corporate copyright.

Jeremy Allison jra at
Tue Oct 11 18:20:17 MDT 2011

Here is a change we're instituting immediately to make it easier
for corporations to contribute code changes to Samba whilst still
retaining copyright ownership of the contributed code.

Feel free to ask any questions on the samba-technical at

We'd like to thank our lawyers at the Software Freedom Law Center
for helping us to make this change.


	The Samba Team.

Samba is a project with distributed copyright ownership, which means
we prefer the copyright on parts of Samba to be held by individuals
rather than corporations if possible. There are historical legal
reasons for this, but one of the best ways to explain it is that it's
much easier to work with individuals who have ownership than corporate
legal departments if we ever need to make reasonable compromises with
people using and working with Samba.

We track the ownership of every part of Samba via git, our source code
control system, so we know the provenance of every piece of code that
is committed to Samba.

So if possible, if you're doing Samba changes on behalf of a company
who normally owns all the work you do please get them to assign
personal copyright ownership of your changes to you as an individual,
that makes things very easy for us to work with and avoids bringing
corporate legal departments into the picture.

If you can't do this we can still accept patches from you owned by
your employer under a standard employment contract with corporate
copyright ownership. It just requires a simple set-up process first.

We use a process very similar to the way things are done in the Linux
kernel community, so it should be very easy to get a sign off from
your corporate legal department. The only changes we've made are to
accommodate the licenses we use, which are GPLv3 and LGPLv3 (or later)
whereas the Linux kernel uses GPLv2.

The process is called signing.

How to sign your work

Once you have permission to contribute to Samba from
your employer, simply email a copy of the following text
from your corporate email address to contributing at

Samba Developer's Certificate of Origin. Version 1.0

By making a contribution to this project, I certify that:

(a) The contribution was created in whole or in part by me and I
    have the right to submit it under the appropriate
    version of the GNU General Public License; or

(b) The contribution is based upon previous work that, to the best
    of my knowledge, is covered under an appropriate open source
    license and I have the right under that license to submit that
    work with modifications, whether created in whole or in part
    by me, under the GNU General Public License, in the
    appropriate version; or

(c) The contribution was provided directly to me by some other
    person who certified (a) or (b) and I have not modified

(d) I understand and agree that this project and the
    contribution are public and that a record of the
    contribution (including all metadata and personal
    information I submit with it, including my sign-off) is
    maintained indefinitely and may be redistributed
    consistent with the Samba Team's policies and the
    requirements of the GNU GPL where they are relevant.

(e) I am granting this work to this project under the terms of both
    the GNU General Public License and the GNU Lesser General Public
    License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version
    3 of these Licenses, or (at the option of the project) any later

We will maintain a copy of that email as a record that you have the
rights to contribute code to Samba under the required licenses whilst
working for the company where the email came from.

Then when sending in a patch via the normal mechanisms described
above, add a line that states:

Signed-off-by: Random J Developer <random at>

using your real name and the email address you sent the original email
you used to send the Samba Developer's Certificate of Origin to us
(sorry, no pseudonyms or anonymous contributions.)

That's it ! Such code can then quite happily contain changes that have
copyright messages such as :

        (C) Example Corporation.

and can be merged into the Samba codebase in the same way as patches
from any other individual. You don't need to send in a copy of the
Samba Developer's Certificate of Origin for each patch, or inside each
patch. Just the sign-off message is all that is required once we've
received the initial email.

Have fun and happy Samba hacking !

The Samba Team.

More information about the samba-announce mailing list