[Python-Dev] License cleanup

Greg Stein gstein@lyra.org
Fri, 17 Sep 1999 15:14:04 -0700

Vladimir Marangozov wrote:
> BTW, I'm surprised by the fact that in an Open Source world I'm asked
> to sign a licence agreement with CNRI or to send e-mails for contributed
> code. If Python or Linux had had such constraints from the start, they
> wouldn't have been what they are today.

Actually, this isn't surprising at all. The Free Software Foundation
*requires* this kind of thing to be filed with them before you
contribute code to the FSF. Essentially, it is a way for the FSF (and
CNRI) to legally state that they own the copyright on the particular
code. Without that, the contributor could come along later and claim a
copyright on the code.

The IBM folks who are working on Apache have provided legal releases to
the Apache Software Foundation that basically states that IBM won't try
to assume any rights under copyright law on the code they contribute to
Apache. In fact, every time that I receive a patch for my mod_dav Apache
module, the IBM guy attaches a release to the email that has the patch.

In a pure, cooperative, world none of this would be necessary. However,
the world simply doesn't work that way and all this stuff (licenses,
copyrights, releases) is there to prevent Bad Things from happening. It
isn't evil in itself, but simply a reflection of the business
environment and the society that we're working within.


Greg Stein, http://www.lyra.org/