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From Grant Ingersoll <gsing...@apache.org>
Subject When to Incubate and when to directly donate
Date Fri, 22 Feb 2008 12:07:55 GMT

I am looking for some guidance on a couple of issues that aren't clear  
to me when starting up a new project (and it probably applies to  
existing ones too).  Also, I am not sure whether this discussion is  
best here or in Incubator, but I chose here b/c it seems it is more  
about what constitutes a Software Grant, which goes beyond the  

Currently, http://www.apache.org/licenses/ lays out making Software  
Grants.   From what I can tell, it seems like there are several  
options people have when it comes to donating code:

1. Click the little JIRA box that says you license this code to the  
ASF.  This is how patches are handled
2. File an iCLA
3. Get your company to file a CCLA

2 & 3 may involve going through incubation.

What's not clear to me, is what is the threshold for donating code.  A  
few lines of code clearly falls in #1 above and that seems  
reasonable.  What about a working algorithm?  For instance, we  
recently started the Mahout project over at Lucene (there was no code  
existing prior to the start of the project) and individuals are now  
contributing code that implements various algorithms for machine  
learning.  They do this through process #1 just like any other project  
that takes in new code, which seems fine to me.

However, a couple of other scenarios have come up.  A company has  
contacted me about donating some of their internal code.  It has not  
been released outside of the company.  What is the process for that?

Finally, what is the process for code that has been licensed elsewhere  
under a different license?  The case for this one is a single file  
containing an ANTLR grammar that describes a commonly used file format  
in machine learning.  The author has said he is willing to donate it  
to the ASF/Mahout.  Does this individual file have to go through  
incubation since it was out in the wild under a different license?  I  
guess I am being a bit paranoid about it, but it seems like it is a  
bit hard to establish, through the JIRA process that the person  
donating some piece of "wild" code is really who they say they are and  
thus they may not have the rights to donate it.  But, then again, that  
is completely true for anyone who has not filed a CLA and goes through  
process #1.

Not sure if I am making myself clear, as the whole issue is fairly  
muddy for me, so please ask me questions that might help me clarify  
the issue.  I also hope I am not opening a huge can o' worms!


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