Guidelines: Becoming a Contributor

Sep 13, 2010 at 5:58 PM

Hi All,

I've started documenting some of the processes and guidelines we'll have for NuPack. These are all prelminary!

Please provide your input on what I've written. I'll be working with Bradley and the Orchard team to try and look at ways we can collaborate on refining these guidelines.





Oct 6, 2010 at 10:40 PM

I'm organizing some other projects on CodePlex and I'm trying to learn more about different contributor policies. I have a question about this paragraph:

"In order to preserve the integrity of the intellectual property of the NuPack source code, anyone who contributes more than a small bug fix or tweak, such as a new feature or a bug fix so significant that it can be considered a new feature, must have submitted a contributor agreement in advance."

Is the contributor agreement a copyright assignment or copyright license?

If copyright assignment:

My understanding (based upon this FSF page) is that copyright assignment and consolidating intellectual property is primarily required because only the copyright owner can enforce the terms of a license through legal means. The primary reason why someone would sue over a GPL license is a company taking open code and making it proprietary and violating the license.

Since you're using the Apache license, rather than GPL or other copyleft license, it seems that there would be few if any license violations that it would be worth suing over.

Considering this, what does the "the integrity of the intellectual property of the NuPack source code" mean? Is there another reason besides license enforcement that you would need to consolidate major feature contributors but not minor contributors?

If the agreement is just a copyright license:

What benefit does this have over just accepting contributions under the Apache license, like you seem to do for minor contributions?

I could be misunderstanding or missing something. I ask because I'm trying to learn the thoughts that went into this policy.


Oct 6, 2010 at 11:09 PM

I'm not a lawyer so there's probably a lot I can't and shouldn't comment on. Many of the guidelines are per the Outercurve foundation's guidelines. Typically though, the concern here is if a random person contributes a significant chunk of code, how does the project that accepts that code know that the contributor had the right to contribute it in the first place?

In many cases, for example, if a contributor is not careful and does some work during work (or even after work in some cases), they may find out that their employment agreement stipulates that their employer owns their work. There's a famous case of this in regards to PERL. The employer then sues the project for copyright infringement. That's bad.

So contributor agreements typically state something to the effect that the contributor is stating that he or she definitely owns and has the right to contribute the work under question.

Oct 7, 2010 at 3:46 AM

Thanks, that makes sense. I can see how minor contributions are mostly modifications of existing project IP while major contributions might involve IP from an unclear source.

If you could entertain another question, why did you guys choose the Apache license and not Ms-PL?


Oct 7, 2010 at 9:03 PM

Because our lawyer recommended it. J