[GRASS5] Re: [GRASSLIST:10619] Re: FWD: [OSGeo-Discuss] Incubation Committee / Contributor Agreements]

Frank Warmerdam warmerdam at pobox.com
Mon Feb 27 23:34:46 EST 2006

Glynn Clements wrote:
> The main issue which I see is that the wording doesn't appear to give
> the submitter any choice over the licence(s) used by the foundation:
>   2. Grant of Copyright License. Subject to the terms and conditions of
>   this Agreement, You hereby grant to the Foundation and to recipients
>   of software distributed by the Foundation a perpetual, worldwide,
>   non-exclusive, no-charge, royalty-free, irrevocable copyright license
>   to reproduce, prepare derivative works of, publicly display, publicly
>   perform, sublicense, and distribute Your Contributions and such
>   derivative works.
> This appears to suggest that the foundation can redistribute
> contributions under whichever licence it chooses, the only restriction
> being in the opening paragraph:
>   In return, the Foundation shall not use Your Contributions in a way
>   that is contrary to the public benefit or inconsistent with its
>   nonprofit status and bylaws in effect at the time of the
>   Contribution.
> Unless the agreement includes a "space" to state a specific licence,
> all contributions will essentially be under a BSD/MIT style licence
> (i.e. permitting the creation of proprietary derivatives).


You are correct that the above terms mean the foundation could
redistribute the code with any OSI license.  However, it would
not automatically be BSD/MIT.   The foundation could choose to
distribute it under the GPL.

In the case of GRASS the foundation would still have to license
GRASS as a whole under the GPL since it will not be possible to
get all previous contributors to GRASS to sign the contributor
agreement.  However, that would not preclude the foundation from
relicensing new developers from contributors working under the

I think the intention of this was so that the foundation would
be able to changes licenses in some cases where it is deemed
useful.  For instance, situations like upgrading from GPL v2 to
GPL v3 or perhaps making parts of GRASS LGPL so they can be

For non GPL projects this stuff doesn't matter much.  But for
contributors to GPL projects that feel strongly about keeping
them GPL I can see that it could be a problem.   In practice
we (the board) are planning to put in place some safeguards.
Stuff like it requiring a super-majority of the PSC and the
foundation board to relicense code (written into the bylaws),
but that is still no guarantee that code would remain GPL for

This is definitely the part of the agreement that I have been
most concerned about raising red flags.

I am cc:ing Rich Steele, the foundation counsel who prepared
the agreement.  He likely can't reply back to the grass lists,
but I think he and the foundation need to think about this aspect

Best regards,
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, warmerdam at pobox.com
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush    | Geospatial Programmer for Rent

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