[Mailman3-dev] Mailman 3 Contributors Agreement

Barry Warsaw barry at python.org
Mon Mar 15 14:37:16 EST 2004

On Sun, 2004-03-14 at 23:27, J C Lawrence wrote:
> On Sun, 14 Mar 2004 18:17:46 -0500 
> Barry Warsaw <barry at python.org> wrote:
> > http://zope.org/Members/bwarsaw/MailmanDesignNotes/MM3ContributorsAgreement.pdf
> My quibbles:
>   I specifically don't want to see Mailman under a "...or any future
>   version of the GPL..." such that it could become subject to an
>   Affero-like license.

I had to look up what "Affero-like license" meant.  AFAICT, it's an
attempt to "close the ASP loophole" which I take to mean stopping or
controlling the use of GPL'd software in for-fee ASP environments
without releasing modifications.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.

FWIW, I would have no interest in constraining Mailman's use in this
way.  I /like/ the fact that folks can provide Mailman list hosting
services by integrating it into their existing sites.  I have no
problems with a for-fee ASP delivery model.

>   I'm uncomfortable with unconstrained re-licensing.  Specifically I
>   dislike the idea of (for example) an MIT/BSD licensing fork which
>   would allow the third party to then relicense Mailman again under a
>   license they made up.  I'd be happier with a constraint on the
>   relicensing forms which stated that third parties would only be
>   allowed to use the code under the license they acquired it under.

I don't think anything in the agreement would allow third parties to
dual-license Mailman, although /I/ could do it.  By guaranteeing Mailman
3 is released under the GPL, this guarantees that it will remain free
software, and any contributions will also be available in a free
software release.  So if I ever did something evil (which I don't plan
to do ;), there would also be a GPL'd version of Mailman 3 available
that others could fork and continue to release as free software.  I see
that part of the agreement as insurance to the Mailman and free software

Say three years from now someone offers the Mailman Foundation $1M for a
non-exclusive alternative-licensed copy of the code.  That would be of
benefit to the Mailman community because it would help pay for future
developments.  It's that kind of thing that I want to keep as a
possibility.  So contributors are just acknowledging that, in addition
to their contributions going into a free software release, it's possible
that their work may show up in a non-free version.  It's never going to
be the case that someone would contribute to Mailman 3 and their work
would go only into a non-free version.  That can't happen because of the
guarantee for a free software release of their contribution.

A more likely scenario is this: my employer may pay me to add some
Mailman-like features to a product.  Because of my agreement with them,
the relevant bits can also go into the free Mailman 3 distribution.  If
someone then provides a patch to Mailman that ought to also go into the
product, it would be unworkable for me to not cross-port that patch
back.  So the agreement also makes my life easier by not having to worry
about re-implementing patches that make sense on both sides of the
fence.  Which seems fair to me if my employer were in part helping to
support the free Mailman 3 development effort.

Does that make sense?

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