Clarification around the DCO

James Bottomley James.Bottomley at
Sun Oct 18 23:19:56 UTC 2020

On Mon, 2020-10-19 at 11:00 +1300, Andrew Bartlett via samba-technical
> On Sun, 2020-10-18 at 13:38 -0700, James Bottomley via samba-
> technical
> wrote:
> > On Fri, 2020-10-16 at 19:38 -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.
> > 
> > In legal terms you usually really, really don't want to be special
> > because it causes all sorts of complications if there's any
> > litigation.
> > 
> > This reasoning lies at the heart of our desire to move the DCO
> > beyond the kernel, because if we keep it to the kernel it becomes
> > our legal specialness problem in the same way.
> That is all well and good, but the way this is playing out here is
> really awful.
> It would be one thing if somebody, perhaps you, came to our project
> politely suggesting 'have you considered the benefits of'...
> The process here is just rubbing everyone up the wrong way.

I understand, so let me try to explain why this all blew up.  The
origin is a row on another list which is populated by a load of
lawyers, a lot of whom are also Corporate Counsels.  This other list is
governed by Chatham House Rules

Which forbids quoting what was said and who said it.  However, I'll try
to describe what happened without violating this rule.

For background, a large number of corporations, through their counsels
(who are mostly on this other list), have requested changes to the DCO
over the years (a lot of which were trying to prevent patent capture). 
All of which requests we've rejected on the grounds of not wanting to
cause DCO fragmentation.  On this other lists, there was a discussion
of the DCO which lead to the implication that we'd authorized Samba's
change while refusing all of theirs'. We were forced to deny this
implication robustly in case the other list members got the wrong idea.

Our robust denial got back to the SFC who engaged us privately on this
topic.   What we actually said to the SFC was we'd obviously done
nothing about the Samba issue in the past and had no plans do do
anything now; however, if the SFC could help us engage in discussions
with Samba, it could potentially lead to a a win-win outcome we could
report back to the other list.  The SFC told us that actually they
preferred to let the matter drop.  Thus it was rather a surprise to us
to find Bradley's patch on the Samba list, but we figured that now the
situation had been broached we may as well try engaging.  All the rest
you've seen on the samba-technical list.

If there's no desire here to investigate DCO alignment at this time, we
can let this aspect simply drop and you can resolve Bradley's patch in
the way you see fit.


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