OK, a response. Sorry for the delay.
First, I'll change the part of the introduction that says:
"Essentially, a committer signs an agreement stating that all
code that the committer submits has been created by her."
"Essentially, a committer signs an agreement stating that all
code that the committer submits has been created by her, or
that she has verified that the contributed code violates
Which means that we're going to take you up on your suggestion for
encouraging small patches. I just added this to the FAQ:
8) Does someone have to jump through all these legal hoops just to
submit a small patch?
The contributor agreement certainly is a heavy process for someone
that wants to make a small contribution, such as a patch. These
contributions are just as important to the health of an open
source project as major code work. Thus, Zope should encourage
patch contributions, not create an enormous disincentive. At the
same time, integrity of the code base needs to be maintained.
For small contributions, simply supply them through a
communications channel such as the bug tracker or the mailing
lists. Alternatively, contact a committer or ZC directly. A
committer will then review the patch and assume the legal issues
of committing it themselves. Likely they will contact the patch
submitter and get a confirmation that the patch can be used.
The committers will have some guidelines on recognizing when it is
reasonable to accept a patch. It should be clear when something
has little basis for being deemed intellectual property, versus a
major change with advanced algorithms.
In your note, you mentioned:
I suppose that I could assign them those rights, but personally I
find that idea repugnant since I don't believe in intellectual
property <grin>. (Hmm. If I put my stuff in the public domain, how
would that play in?)
Repugnancy aside :^) your second comment is on the mark. It isn't so
much that you need to assign and "lose" ownership. Rather, the
committer needs to ensure that they aren't violating your rights.
We'll probably work up some boilerplate such as, "I'm going to commit
your patch to Zope. It's going to be available under the ZPL and the
joint ownership model of the Zope Contributor Agreement. Please respond
agreeing that you understand the ZPL, the joint ownership model, and
allow this contribution under these terms."
How does that sound?
R. David Murray wrote:
> On Thu, 20 Sep 2001, Paul Everitt wrote:
>>So, let's begin what I'm sure will be a lively and illuminating
> First, would it be possible to put up a copy of the Contributor
> Agreement in html format? If you feel the only legal version for
> signing is the PDF one fine, but it would be a lot easier for people
> to check it out if there is an html version to read.
> Second, I suppose you should be aware of my biases before reading
> anything more. I don't believe in intellectual property, either
> copyright or patent. On the other hand, they are currently the
> law of the land; and, within what seems to me to be fair use kinds
> of standards, I try to respect copyrights while encouraging people
> to use vehicles that make use of as few of the restrictions imposed
> by copyrights and patents as possible. (You will guess that I am
> *not* a fan of the GPL, though I consider it far superior to a
> traditional copyright <grin>.) Also, I am not a lawyer and don't
> pretend to be very up on the subtleties of copyright law, so my
> concern may turn out to be naive.
> I very much like the intent stated in the Introduction, that
> of getting maximal rights into the hands of both the contributors
> and Zope Corporation to do things in the future with the code
> without having to get an endless set of sign-offs.
> However, I have a concern about the Agreement that isn't covered
> in the Introduction or the FAQ. I'm worried that the Agreement
> may exclude us from some of the benefits of the bazaar model of
> open source development.
> My key concern is summed up in this statement from the Introduction:
> "Essentially, a committer signs an agreement stating that all
> code that the committer submits has been created by her."
> The actual agreement does *not* say this, but "essentially" it does
> require it, since the things the committer has to swear to in
> submitting the code are very difficult to swear to unless he or
> she is the author of the code.
> Now, I have only contributed small amounts of code to Open Source
> projects so far. But I'm sure there are a lot more people out there
> who have "only contributed small amounts" than those who have contributed
> whole modules, and that there are even fewer people who do so much
> work that jumping through these kinds of legal hoops, and agreeing to
> a certain amount of liability, is worth while. In the cases where
> I have contributed, it's just been, "oh, cool, thanks for the patch",
> with no legal discussion and maybe an acknowledgment in the contributors
> My concern here is that under a regime such as this one, if I write
> ten lines of code that adds a feature I and a few other people
> really need in Zope, it is *not* going to get committed. I'm certainly
> not going to sign that agreement and become a committer just for
> ten lines of code, and I much doubt that Zope Corporation is going
> to want to go to the overhead of vetting my application just for
> ten lines of code. But if I wrote those ten lines, it hardly seems
> that any other contributor can commit them, since they don't own
> any rights to them that they can assign to Zope Corporation. I suppose
> that I could assign them those rights, but personally I find that
> idea repugnant since I don't believe in intellectual property
> <grin>. (Hmm. If I put my stuff in the public domain, how would
> that play in?) But aside from that, jumping through legal hoops
> (there would presumably have to be some sort of written assignment
> of rights) for ten lines of code is at the very least going to have
> a dampening effect on small contributions.
> Of course, you could get around this problem by having the committer
> rewrite the small submissions, but this seems a bit disingenuous,
> and it seems to me it might be legally questionable. In other
> words, under this Agreement, exactly what is the legal status
> of a one or two line patch?
> So, the many small contributions that make a bazaar software project
> tend rapidly toward high quality, which is one of the things I got
> the impression you are trying to achieve by opening up the CVS
> repository, may not materialize under this Agreement. We'll have
> just about the same situation we have now, except that there will
> be more committers and therefore, one hopes, an increase in the
> pace of (controlled) change. An improvement, yes, but can we do
> even better?
> Of course, I could be completely wrong in my guesses about the
> dynamics, but I figured somebody should play the devil's advocate
> here <grin>.
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