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From "Roy T. Fielding" <field...@gbiv.com>
Subject Re: IP Clearance
Date Fri, 29 Jul 2011 19:39:35 GMT
On Jul 28, 2011, at 5:17 PM, Ralph Goers wrote:

> OK.  This is obviously a statement on policy, not legality, which is fine.  However,
I'd like to understand the rationale for the policy a bit better rather than just accepting
a blanket statement.  Are their some consequences I'm not thinking about or aware of in using
code we are legally entitled to?  Is it just a matter of preserving goodwill?  

Goodwill, respect for the artist, an unwillingness to waste time in pointless
exercises of he-said-so-I-did, and a general desire to do no harm and follow
the golden rule.

> Again, I'm simply trying to reconcile this policy with the fact that we won't give software
grants to anyone because we tell them the Apache license is all they need.  I've actually
had this question for quite a while as I've looked at some of the things that are listed as
being donated at http://incubator.apache.org/ip-clearance/index.html and in several cases
I don't understand what extra value the grant provides over the software license.

When the ASF takes control over the future of a piece of software, such that
all decisions made in changing that software become the responsibility of
some part of the ASF, we want the original developer(s) of that software
to be happy.  One way for us to know they are happy is for them to sign a
software grant or CCLA.  Another way is for them to send us an email saying
that it is okay for us to include it, or that they have abandoned the code.
An SGA is definitely preferred for corporations, since they tend to lose
their minds every quarter.  These are social issues for a social group
because that's what we care most about.

We only ask for that permission once.  If a person sends us a contribution
and then later (after we have made a release) decides that they don't want
us to have the code after all, then we tell them it is too late.  We made
a decision based on the voluntary contribution and that decision is final.

If, however, we are stupid enough to allow one of our project developers
to maintain a significant part of our product on some server that is not
owned or controlled by the ASF, and we don't bother to ensure that the
source code has been deliberately contributed to the ASF by that developer
before making it a dependency in one of our products, then we have placed
that developer in a position of dictating the decisions for our project.
That is, of course, why such an arrangement has been expressly forbidden
by the board for the past decade or so: ALL of the source code that WE
maintain for OUR products MUST BE in our version control repository.

The amount of documentation we require depends on the amount of effort the
project intends to apply to that code base in the future.  We don't care
about simple reuse, such as including an Apache-licensed package within
one of our packages.  What we care a lot about is code that our
own volunteers have spent time (and will spend more time) maintaining.

If the code has not been contributed deliberately to the ASF, and the
owner is unwilling to do so now, then delete it and walk away.  You can
package old libraries with the product release so that some features
remain available, but we end all future work on that codebase.  As soon
as possible, replace it with a better alternative.  There is no code in
the universe that is worth any further discussion once it has been
poisoned by ill will.  Just cut the dead limbs and let the rest of the
plant grow itself.

....Roy
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