On Dec 19, 2003, at 2:27 PM, Ted Husted wrote:

Harish Krishnaswamy wrote:
ASF is a group of projects administered by the Apache board members. The board delegates certain responsibilities over to the PMCs of the individual projects while still maintaining the authority and management responsibilities. The PMC is responsible for a wholesome code and community of the project it oversees but does not have the authority to recognize new projects.

I'd say it the other way around. The ASF is a collection of communities that create and maintain codebases. To obtain infrastructure support and some legal protection, these communities donate the copyright of its software and ownership of its brand to the Foundation. In order to provide legal protection and watchdog its copyright, the board assigns a vice president to oversee the project. A committee is also convened to assist the VP with oversight.

I think this is mostly right, and I say "mostly" because it's legally precise, but in practice, the community tends to be there first, rather than be convened later, and the community also tends to suggest to the board the individual they wish to 'oversee' (meaning the PMC chair).

The board doesn't always accept the community's recommendation, though, and indeed the selection of chair is legally the board's sole assignment, as you way.

Since the committee is formed by a resolution of the board, its members are eligible for legal protection in the event of a lawsuit.

I don't believe this is correct, although it will require someone else to give a definitive answer. (I've been playing a bit in the legal sandbox re some ASF-related issues, so I've been paying attention to this...)

Indemnification is granted for directors, officers and members of the corporation (the ASF), or serving at the request of the corporation in some way. Thus, the PMC chair, as an officer of the corporation is protected, but not all PMC members. However, the structure of the ASF is such that the ASF is the holder of copyright and owner of the code, which provides a level of protection for committers.

Also, since the committee is the only formal body created by the board, only the votes of committee members are considered "binding". In the normal course, most or all of the committers are also committee members. (Jakarta being an anomaly.)

100% correct


A very subtle concept is that the ASF doesn't actually "own" the codebase. The codebase belongs to its community, and under the Apache License, that community can always "vote with its feet". Since it is the community that gives the software its value (by using and maintaining it), there is an Apache belief that the community is the true owner of the codebase. The ASF just owns the brand and yesterday's copyright.

I believe that this isn't right - the ASF does own the codebase via the copyright, and the codebase is licensed at no cost to any entity that is willing to agree to the terms of the license. That entity, community or otherwise, cannot remove that license or change it unilaterally.

I think that my understanding of these issues has been clarifying over the last several months due to my JCP work. This stuff always is hard for us non-lawyers. To that end, as I am not a lawyer, all that I said above could be completely wrong :)


Geir Magnusson Jr                                   203-247-1713(m)

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