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From David Crossley <cross...@apache.org>
Subject Re: Open Contribution: Question about clarifying license status of code contributed in email and mail-lists
Date Thu, 06 Nov 2008 14:02:27 GMT
Sam Ruby wrote:
> Rick Jelliffe wrote:
> >
> > Member David Crossley suggested that it might useful to bring up an issue on
> > this list.
> >
> > I represent some long running open source projects, and recently we have
> > been working through some issues with an eye to becoming an Apache project
> > at some stage.
> >
> > What is the problem trying to be solved?  That *perhaps* the law (in some
> > jurisdictions) will not recognize that submitting code in a mail-list or
> > other forum to an open source project (for a bug fix or enhancement or
> > technique) by some-one who knows that the project is open source and whose
> > intent is obviously that this code could be used (otherwise why would they
> > submit it?) does not thereby give permission to use it. (IANAL but this
> >  seems entirely dubious to me, though perhaps if it is being done on company
> > time there may be some other  angle.)  So therefore, regardless of whether
> > the Apache project takes off, we might do well to err on the side of caution
> > and make any permissions explicit on our non-Apache or pre-Apache
> > mail-lists.
> >
> > So I am investigation this approach: all the mailing lists to include
> > notices as part of sign-up noting that it is a condition of usage that
> > sending code involves permission to use.
> >
> > IANAL, but I am thinking along these lines:
> >
> > "Open Contribution: 1) By subscribing to this list or forum, the subscriber
> > grants permission to use any code samples, algorithms, methods, data
> > structures, text, bug statements, instance fragments or other material
> > posted to this list in any project with a license approved by the Open
> > Source Initiative (http://www.opensource.org/licenses).
> >
> > 2) The user further agrees to sign any explicit contributor agreement,
> > should this be required by such projects, if asked, without giving up their
> > own copyright.
> >
> > 3) Nothing in this note should be construed as implying any lack of implied
> > permission to use such material in this list or forum before this note was
> > published."
> >
> > This is not an issue of Contributor License agreements. Any improvements or
> > comments are very welcome.
> It is not clear to me what the question is in the above, but for the
> ASF approach to addressing this issue, you might want to look at
> section 5 of the Apache License, Version 2.0.

Thanks Sam. At the project that Rick mentions we have
been discussing contributions, and people are aware of
how it is handled at ASF. I referred them to the following
(even though still draft, it is most useful):

Some are concerned that it would be better to have this
more explicit, rather than relying on contributors knowing
that everything that they contribute is so licensed.

Hence the suggestion above to add some words to the
"welcome" email when people subscribe to a list.

They will probably also use the words on their existing
mail subscribe welcome messages and archives. That is why
the words are generic.

I suggest that we also add a URL for that legal process page:
and a URL for the ASF Public Forum Archive Policy:

So the questions are:

* Can a message be added to the welcome subscription
of the project's mailing lists when it enters the

* Should this also be added to all ASF lists?

* Are the words that Rick has suggested suitable
for that purpose?


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