[Ubuntu-bugcontrol] Please, consider reflecting on the Canonical Contributor Agreement

Dr. David Alan Gilbert ubuntu at treblig.org
Mon Dec 29 12:31:12 UTC 2014

* Stephen M. Webb (stephen.webb at canonical.com) wrote:
> On 12/28/2014 09:50 PM, Alberto Salvia Novella wrote:
> > 
> > But there's a problem with that, which is it overrides the social contract with people to code to belong to the world
> > not to a group of individuals; making the system abusive by design.
> > 
> > It's like telling that an autocracy is better because its drivers have extra flexibility to do whatever will be needed
> > in future, which is also a proven method for sinking projects and communities.
> > 
> > So please address the root causes that let to this issue, so we have a healthy environment for everyone.
> I think you will find that there is no conflict between any vaguely defined "social contract" and the requirements for
> acceptable code submission to a software project.  If you could enumerate the abuses engendered by asking for a grant of
> license I'd be happy to address them individually.
> In order to accept code contribution to a Canonical-led software project a small number of conditions need to be
> satisfied.  Among these conditiona are a strict minimum level of demonstrable code quality (we do no want buggy code),
> applicability (we do not want irrelevant code), and the same rights as the author (an explicit rights grant, also known
> as the CLA).

That's very misleading.  I don't think any reading of Alberto's mail is objecting to code review.

> You will find upon a close reading of the various source code distribution licenses that they do not harbour any
> requirements that arbitrary code contributions must be accepted upstream.  In fact, you will not find any examples of
> Free or open source software projects anywhere that unconditionally accept arbitrary code contributions.  It's just not
> a thing.

CLAs are indeed common practice; however ones that allow relicensing of
contributions under arbitrary commercial licenses are much rarer and those
are objectionable, and I think you realise that's what Alberto was objecting to.

> If you truly believe that the original works of an author or authors belong not to them individually but to some larger
> collective, you would probably be more effective talking to legislators to get the copyright and patent laws in your
> local jurisdiction struck down, and best of luck with that.  Mean time we will continue asking the authors of
> contributions to agree to share the specific rights in their work if they want it accepted into a Canonical-led project.
>  That's the best way to guarantee fairness for everyone.

Of course we're all free to fork the canonical code to a project that
doesn't have the same CLA, so it's not a vast issue; but as is I can
not contribute to a subproject that requires contributions under the
current CLA.


> -- 
> Stephen M. Webb  <stephen.webb at canonical.com>
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