OSGeo Contributor Agreement Review

Dave McIlhagga dmcilhagga at DMSOLUTIONS.CA
Tue Mar 21 09:52:37 EST 2006

For everyone's sake, just to keep the contributor agreement in 
perspective -- have a re-read through this:

"the OSGeo’s governance model gives great deference to the Project 
Steering Committees (PSCs) that run the foundation’s individual software 
projects – including deference to the open source licenses chosen for 
those projects – and the foundation has no intention of changing these 
licenses. Moreover, the OSGeo Board of Directors is currently 
considering some governance rules that would make it significantly more 
difficult for OSGeo to change the license for any given foundation 
software project. For example, the Board is considering adding a 
restriction to the OSGeo charter that would prohibit the foundation from 
changing a project’s open source license without first obtaining the 
approval of a supermajority of the Board of Directors and the relevant 
PSC. In this way, you can be assured that the projects to which you 
contribute will not change their licensing unless it is in the best 
interests of the project community, as determined by nearly all of the 
members of the Board and the affected PSC."

Given the length the foundation is going to protect licensing choices of 
the projects, I suspect re-licensing will be very rare, and for good 
reason such as the Mozilla re-licensing for compatibility with other 
open source licenses and of course with broad agreement within the PSC.

And as Steve pointed out - with an MIT/X11 license for MapServer, 
re-licensing is in fact possible for anyone right now...


Steve Lime wrote:
> Since MapServer is MIT/X11 it is assumed that if you contribute code you
> do so under the project license- that does not seem to be an issue. However
> the relicensing rubs a lot people the wrong way. Someone commented 
> today that the MIT/X11 license basically allows relicensing anyway though.
> I'd hate to do anything that would jepordize contributions...
> Steve
>>>>Petter Reinholdtsen <pere at hungry.com> 03/20/06 4:24 PM >>>
> [Steve Lime]
>>Out of curiousity. How many folks would NOT sign such an agreement?
>>Would the mere presence of such a thing scared you away in the first
> I would not be very willing, at least.  I read the FAQ, and my first
> reaction was two-fold:
>  - The use of "intellectual property" in the text made me thing of
>    <URL:http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/not-ipr.xhtml>, and the fact
>    that there is not much patents, trademarks and copyright have in
>    common that is useful to generalize, and thus that the use of that
>    term is rubbing me the wrong way.
>  - I am not generally willing to relicense my GPL work with a less
>    restrictive license.  If you want my help, you need to promise me
>    to give me your help, and if you want to use my code, I want to
>    make you legally required to give me your improvements.  Because of
>    this, I do not want to delegate the right to relicense my GPL code.
>    If I contribute to projects with other licenses, it is ok for my
>    contribution to use the same license as the project, but I do not
>    want projects to change license to some less restrictive license
>    without me having a say on the topic.
> Not sure if my opinion should be given much weight, though.  After
> all, I am not doing much mapserver development, and only packaging it
> (and other GIS tools) for Debian. :)
> Friendly,

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