[Samba] Proposal to change Samba contribution copyright policy.

David Collier-Brown davec-b at rogers.com
Wed Jul 13 05:04:55 MDT 2011

Andrew Bartlett wrote:
> 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.
> My main concern is that it will make it harder to explain the line at
> which we require a company that becomes gradually involved in Samba to
> jump though the hoops for individual copyright.  This is typically a
> very tedious process, particularly because of the lack of a standard
> guidance from the Team (because is is typically a modification to
> employment agreements, and because they are both confidential and
> different per company). 
> But in exactly the same sense, I personally feel quite bad about scaring
> a company off making wiki contributions (about how to do smartcards and
> Samba4) because our policy had no distinction between types of
> contributions.  It would have been really good to have their experiences
> in the wiki - and I'm sure the same applies to build fixes and other
> small but important changes. 
> Andrew Bartlett

Can we make it easier for an individual  contributor to avoid the
problem entirely? If I do not wish to claim copyright, I have to realize
that to do so I assign copyright to the conservancy,  and the wiki asks
me to contact a team member if I wish to do so.

I'd far rather have it clear how I can contribute without triggering a
long discussion with a puzzled IT manager who literally thinks I'm
talking about "shareware". Having the considerations set out under a
heading like "Contributing Without Claiming Copyright" would be a real
benefit to anyone wishing to contribute but concerned about committing
his employer to a new and highly unfamiliar legal regime.

--dave (now on full time with a former customer) c-b

David Collier-Brown,         | Always do right. This will gratify
System Programmer and Author | some people and astonish the rest
davecb at spamcop.net           |                      -- Mark Twain
(416) 223-8968

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