Clarification around the DCO

Jeremy Allison jra at
Sat Oct 17 03:24:08 UTC 2020

On Fri, Oct 16, 2020 at 07:38:40PM -0700, Bradley M. Kuhn via samba-technical wrote:
> Jeremy Allison via samba-technical wrote:
> > Ah, I've just remembered *why* we have a difference from your "standard"
> > DCO text.
> Yes, a tremendous amount of time and effort went into figuring out the right
> policy for Samba with regard to contributor licensing.  Some of those
> details were reported publicly, and some were reported privately to the key
> folks in Samba.  I myself put in many hours of work on this, as
> did many other Conservancy staff, lawyers and Samba volunteers.  Nothing has
> changed with regard to the analysis.  We also had a private discussion at a
> developers' meeting at a Samba XP about the reasoning, IIRC.
> Obviously, if Samba wants to redo that analysis at this time, we'll do what
> needs to be done to help Samba as a member project.  But I don't see any
> reason given here to redo that work.
> I already made a merge request days ago about changing the name and there is
> a thread discussing that (but consensus hasn't been reached).  The name
> really doesn't matter, but the content of the terms certainly do.  What works
> for Linux as a project doesn't work for everyone.  One size doesn't fit all.
> James has every right to his stated agenda of getting the whole world to use
> the unmodified DCO, but the statement that Samba is "outside the fold" for
> failing to use the specific terms is just rhetoric.  Samba doesn't use
> Linux's license (GPLv2-only) either, and is unlikely to want to switch to
> GPLv2-only.  But changing your contributor licensing terms is as big a
> change as changing the license of the project itself.  It's not usually
> considered particularly friendly for folks outside a project to come by and
> ask for the project to change its license details.
> Finally, changing the *name* of your developer representation statement and
> its *contents* are very different discussions and should not be conflated.
> The former is an easy change and purely cosmetic.  The latter is hard and will
> change policy and legal outcomes for Samba.  IANAL and I'd want Samba to get
> confidential legal advice from a lawyer that represents Samba's interest (as
> it received back in 2013) before making the latter change.
> I suggest the community first consider the name change and execute it, and
> then only after that's done consider whether the contents need to change.
> I'd be glad to update my merge request on the name change to a name
> that you all reach consensus on.  I haven't seen anything that indicates
> a name change is mandatory, but it would clearly be a nice thing to do.
> One of my life philosophies is to generally try to do almost anything
> someone requests if it's an easy thing to do and won't cause us trouble or
> substantial extra work.  It's that principle that makes me support the name
> change but oppose changing the contents of the developer representation.

Just to repeat what I proposed to James:

"In the meantime the quickest way to get to a non-conflicting situation is
to change our name to "Samba Developer's Declaration"
(if everyone on the Team agrees) and add the CC-By-SA
(C) notice so we're fully in compliance."

We can then consider how and if we can unify with the Linux DCO
at more considered pace.

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